Among the many notables of 2018, more and more marketers are understanding what blockchain can do for their businesses. This could be the year they put that know-how to work.
At its core, blockchain enables transactions between two parties without the need for third-party verification. Rather, it relies on consensus from the entire community. Put another way, rather than getting married in front of an officiant with a couple of witnesses and physically signing a marriage ledger, your union is recognised and legitimised by everyone within the community with an immutable, digital contract.
While it is technically possible to override the blockchain, to do so would require approximately 550 times the processing power of Google–well out of reach for even the most enterprising hacker.
For marketers, the dizzying highs and lows of Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple, etc., can be largely ignored. It is blockchain, the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies, that is powering a plethora of tools and services for the post-GDPR marketer.
The technology is stable, secure, and here to stay. Indeed, it looks like 2019 could be the year we start to see real traction for the use of blockchain in marketing.
On a macro-scale, blockchain technology has the potential to tackle a couple of underlying fault lines in marketing and advertising: transparency of supply chains and ad fraud.
In 2018, advertisers lost an estimated $19 billion to fraud, according to Juniper Research. As a result, some of the biggest names in tech are turning to blockchain for solutions to combat that, attempting to build transparency by creating a simple financial reconciliation for digital media buying. Others are looking at how blockchain can be used in the purchasing process itself, perhaps allowing parties to trade directly using their own cryptocurrency.
For marketers, such blockchain resolution will open the door to exciting relevant brand and customer experiences in 2019.
Protect Personal Data
On a more micro-level, consumers have become more tuned into the security and use of their data. While data on the blockchain is, by its nature, public, it is not governed by a third party. This means with the proper encryption, individuals can take control of their own personal information.
Marketers who are able to offer something of real value in exchange for a consumer actively opting in will remain on the right side of regulation and know that the information they have is truly personalised, current, and accurate.
Blockchain projects such as MadNetwork, BIGtoken, and Killi are focused on empowering consumers to own, verify, and monetise their personal data in a compliant manner.
Identifying ownership of data and products is hallowed ground for marketers as it enables pinpoint targeting and reduces waste in related efforts.
For example, a near-field communications (NFC) tag sewn into a luxury handbag and connected to an app can enable a brand to push messages to the product’s owner, who is connected on the blockchain to that individual item. An opted-in bag owner can be invited to exclusive events with her bag acting as the ticket, or receive discount codes for a new bag when the manufacturer knows the current bag is nearing the end of its lifespan.
Blockchain-enabled targeting can also be used with specific locations, perhaps driving footfall into a new store to redeem a voucher. This blend of offline and online drivers gives marketers a powerful weapon in their armoury.
Authentication And Provenance
For brand marketers, blockchain is able to solve some of their key pain points: namely, authentication and provenance. Consumers, especially Millennials, value this clarity.
Take the luxury bag example: That same chip can store information on the factory and the name of the artisan who hand-stitched the lining, as well as guarantee the provenance of all the component parts. Applying the same principle to aeroplane engines, for example, you could prove that the nuts and bolts come from sources of the highest integrity and standards and pinpoint every single person involved in the manufacturing process.
The Year Ahead
With the initial coin offering gold rush of 2017 well and truly over, blockchain projects really need to sing for their supper. This helps the cream to rise to the top, and only those with real products, strong design, and a top-rate technical team will be able to successfully launch into the market.
As a result, marketers deploying these tools can be more assured of their quality and efficacy. The maturing blockchain sector indicates that 2019 could mark the start of real adoption in marketing and the wider business world.