Year’s end: 2021 in review

Year’s end: 2021 in review

Internet at large, Kathrin Jennewein, 20. December 2021

2021 has been filled with countless online jokes and memes about what a bad year it was, how the pandemic is still flooding our reality, and that normalcy ‘might (fingers crossed) come again next year’. Though, the truth is, we have kept things moving forward as a society and members of the working world and have filled our lives with countless other things. As they say, the show must go on. And for us, that meant striving to keep bringing fundamental change to the online world.

Thus, at year’s end, we’d like to reflect on what defined our year, like changes shaping the internet, the challenges, but also our successes, our thoughts going forward and our gratitude to those who like us, believe in fostering a fair and sustainable online value exchange that allows all stakeholders in the online community to prosper.

Privacy and the Industry Landscape

Two very strong currents have been shaping the online landscape the past year, the first being industry efforts to change certain privacy regulations, and the second being a rise in user awareness of privacy.

In the first instance, we’ve experienced profound changes in how information is collected, with the push to phase out third-party cookies and the efforts of various stakeholders to find new ways to gather valuable targeting information. One of those is FloC, or the Federated Learning of Cohorts, a type of web tracking through federated learning that groups people into cohorts or small collated entities according to their browsing history to generate interest-based advertising. FloC was skeptically perceived by many, and dismissed based on various criticisms from the online community as to its real intentions and lack of provable improvements to user privacy. Concomitantly, the extension for the deprecation of third-party cookies has also been extended as parties continue to search for the best way to compensate for the lack of third-party information going forward.

However, despite all that push and complication, there is an exciting energy where users are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of privacy and the value of their data. There is a need to find solutions, and for companies to do so with users. More people have been online and for more time than ever before due to the pandemic. And this alteration has been accompanied by user demand for more safety and transparency online.

Crumbs

In this climate, eyeo has responded with the release of a product we are particularly excited about called Crumbs. Crumbs is a privacy protection extension and browser technology that provides users the best tracking prevention tools available for free, while offering a unique, sustainable approach to support online content. It also offers users a very often requested product of the last year: Email Relay. One of the things 2021 taught us is that privacy is here to stay, and a culture of privacy protection and user empowerment is something that we have always been striving to foster in the online world.

Trestle

We may have started the year bringing Crumbs onto the market, but that wasn’t the end of our efforts. We also took a huge step toward fulfilling our promise of creating solutions and valuable opportunities for all stakeholders in the online community. We did this by releasing our first ever advertiser-specific product, Trestle. Trestle is the only advertiser solution that reaches the 225 million Acceptable Ads ad-filtering users online, creating valuable monetization opportunities while respecting user experience. It is a major step in the direction of maintaining a sustainable and prosperous online value exchange that helps keep the internet open and freely accessible.

10 years of eyeo

Some could see it as a bit sad that we celebrated our 10 year anniversary during a world pandemic. And yes, there were some logistical problems with actually ‘celebrating’ the event. But more than anything, we are left with the feeling of gratitude. We’ve made it this far, and we’ve had the chance to do it by growing the number of employees at eyeo and by growing in partnerships, and of course with the release of our new products, Crumbs and Trestle (what better gift could we have given ourselves?).

Going forward

Of course, despite all our gratitude for what we managed in such a strange and, at times, challenging year, we are still left with further ambition. Moving forward, we are clear on the fact that we want to keep scaling our vision. In order to have the type of lasting impact necessary to continue enabling a fair value exchange online, we need to further grow in terms of partners and people who believe in what we are doing, and those who want to work with us. We believe that access to high-quality journalism and information is a basic human right. It’s clear that paywalls, deceptive forms of advertisement and other hindrances to a clean and navigable user experience with open access to information are real problems that we must keep addressing. But it’s a democratic future we see, and that future hinges on scaling a fair and prosperous value exchange for all parties in the online world. So, obviously the more the merrier (we had to slip in a holiday-esque word, right?).

Of course it ends in thank you

Leading right from the last sentiment is of course, the people around us, the people we partner with, the users who trust us, and anyone who sees a sustainable value exchange as the best way to enable a promising future for the web. What would we be without you? Thus, the last note to this blog has to be one of outward gratitude. A sustained clap for the people who’ve helped us grow, and the people we believe in as well and who inspire us. It’s been a difficult year for many, and yet we’ve often managed to help each other. So, a sincere thanks to all of you.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash