I recently read an excellent article in Forbes on the topic of Blockchain, which is the technology behind Bitcoin. The upshot of the article is this. Many of you may have heard about the incredible price increase of Bitcoin in 2017 – a whopping 1,300%. A key enabler of this upsurge is Blockchain, which is a digital ledger in which transactions made in Bitcoin (or another cryptocurrency) are chronologically and publicly recorded. It turns out that Blockchain may have potential applications in other realms – including marketing.
Blockchain offers the safe and transparent transfer and storage of data. And while its implications for marketing are still in their infancy, the technology is being compared to the early stages of the Internet, in which the true potential was not discovered and applied until years after it became available. The Blockchain market itself is now worth about $600 million and is expected to grow to $7.74 billion by 2024.
In reading about Blockchain in Forbes and other places, here are five ways I’ve found that this emerging technology stands to affect marketing in the years ahead:
- Replacement for ISPs: Some Bitcoin experts say that Blockchain has the potential to be utilized to provide safer, universal email communications. Proponents of this idea point to the data breaches and cumbersome, obsolete technology used by various internet service providers (ISPs) that are prone to hackers or “state-sponsored” cyberattacks. Startups are already working on building decentralized email platforms offering users total control and privacy detached from any principal network server. Might the day come where these startups make major ISP platforms obsolete – such as those provided today by Yahoo or Google? Time will tell.
- Ad purchasing: Many marketers integrate their programmatic email and online advertising campaigns, such as following up a viewed web page with an email message, or vice versa. Blockchain technology could change how ads are purchased, delivered and measured, and the Forbes story does a very good job of explaining how. Consider this: to marketers today, ad clicks – on the surface -- represent an interested prospect. But, as Forbes reports, bots or hired clickers are also now being deployed to pump up ad statistics and, ultimately, to increase ad rates. (Bots alone cost advertisers $7 billion in ad fraud in 2016.) With Blockchain, advertisers can more easily determine if those viewing their ads are truly within their targeted audience. Here too, startups are building “trusted” ad spaces where users receive campaign auditing and cryptographically secure impression tracking.
- Pay users for viewing ads: Blockchain technology could enable marketers to pay their targeted prospects directly to view and engage with their ads – skipping the ad buying process and eliminating ad brokers and middlemen. In addition, with Blockchain, advertisers would have the ability to build customer profiles directly from one source, as opposed to common disparate sources.
- Ensure fair payment: Blockchain can help ensure payment -- directly to publishers, tech companies, ad agencies, contractors and creative artists -- for the design, delivery and performance of their work. In addition, Blockchain can ensure payment to consumers for use of any content they may have created, such as brand photos or videos, or contributed content to a marketing or ad campaign.
- Improved buyer confidence: By offering tamper-proof transparency, Blockchain can track a product’s every move through the supply chain, as Forbes points out. As a result, buyers can check where a product comes from and who has handled it, whether purchasing via brick and mortar or online. That means they can discover whether their diamond is truly “conflict free” or ensure their brand-name watch or purse isn’t counterfeit. This capability can put power in the customers’ hands and improve buyer trust and confidence.
It’s only the beginning when it comes to Blockchain and its many applications. The takeaway is to pay attention: Blockchain has the potential to change the dynamics of marketing in myriad ways.
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