Despite blockchain being one of the business buzzwords of 2018, you don’t have to look hard to find experts who believe its real impact on business—including marketing—has barely gotten started.
The transformative possibilities of blockchain technology will be the central focus at the first Blockchain Revolution Global in Toronto in April. The event was founded by two of the foremost blockchain thinkers and experts, Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies is Changing the World.
Developed in partnership with MCI Group, the April 24 conference will bring together some of the world’s leading blockchain pioneers and experts to discuss how the technology could revolutionize business, government and society. It will also include the first ever Enterprise Blockchain Awards.
Blockchain can mean many different things to businesses and industries. We asked Alex Tapscott to explain five ways the technology will transform marketing in the months and years ahead. Here’s what he told us:
1) More dynamic engagement between businesses and consumers
Data has become the most important asset within the digital economy, and marketers know it. Facebook, Google and other digital conglomerates amass and mine vast troves of user data and sell it to companies as consumer insights. This has created a crisis of trust, with many viewing it as a one-sided transaction in which users create data but don’t get to monetize it, or see it as a violation of their privacy.
Blockchain offers individuals the ability to realize some of the value of their data. Individuals will create and control their own “digital black box” which aggregates all their personal user data. Does this mean the end of “Big Data”? Not at all, but marketers and brands will need to engage their customers directly, rather than through third parties, to understand their wants and needs.
This dynamic, two-way relationship will improve trust and brand value and, ultimately, the consumer experience. Brands will become market leaders by respecting the trust and privacy of their consumers and allowing them to benefit from the information they create.
2) Improving tracking to supercharge ROI
The internet brought new mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Blockchain expands on those mechanisms, providing greater levels of traceability and tracking for marketing spends.
One of the most transformative aspects of blockchain is its ability to support smart contracts, which automatically execute digital agreements. Imagine a digital advertising campaign where you could encode the specific conditions for payment based not on ad views, but who buys a product based on that advertisement.
Rather than a rough estimate of “cost-per-click,” or the use of discount codes to track the effectiveness of influencer campaigns, advertisers could automatically provide micro-payments for each ad view that leads to a sale.
3) Streamlining marketing processes
At its most basic level, blockchain allows businesses to drastically reduce costs by delivering the type of business logic currently provided by large intermediaries. Things like identity verification and payments take up significant time and resources, increasing the cost of producing and distributing marketing campaigns.
Using blockchain, we can disrupt the vast networks of intermediaries that are increasing costs without adding value to the marketing equation.
4) Monetizing attention
One of the most popular use-cases for blockchain has been to monetize consumer attention. Traditionally, consumers who watch advertisements are compensated with some sort of service—traditionally the content that the advertisement just interrupted. Initiatives like the Basic Attention Token are trying to disrupt that system. Again, using blockchain technology and a method called “tokenization,” they hope to build a system where consumers are directly paid to view ads, providing whole new platforms and mechanisms for advertisers.
5) Reducing the trust deficit
In Blockchain Revolution, we call blockchain the “Trust Protocol.” At its core, it serves as a native medium for trust between different parties transacting things of value. We tend to imagine those transactions as involving money, but that’s not the case.
Anything of value—stocks, bonds, votes, carbon credit, art, and information—can be secured and transacted securely using blockchain. As any marketer knows, we’re living in an era defined by historically low levels of trust. With blockchain we have a new, immutable record which can verify the authenticity of claims made by businesses.