November 7, 2019 | Article | by Jeff Baskin | Technology
How Will Blockchain Impact Digital Marketing?
Blockchain buzz has been sweeping across the digital marketing industry for years, but this life-changing technology is no fad.
Though the technology has been around for years, many people first heard about blockchain technology in 2017, when Bitcoin was approaching $20,000 apiece. The crypto craze may have calmed down for now, but the blockchain revolution is still building momentum.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a decentralized record of unalterable, time-logged data. Basically, it enables two parties to transact without the need for third-party verification. It may sound like an inconsequential feat, but it has enormous implications for the way the world does business.
No single entity controls a public blockchain because there is no central authority. The system is entirely democratic. Everyone can see the data but no one can alter it without the consent of the entire network. It’s practically impossible to manipulate, yet it’s totally transparent.
Digital Marketing Disruptors
While blockchain adoption is occurring at a slow pace in other industries, it's already starting to impact the digital marketing space. Digital marketing is a competitive space so it’s no wonder that many companies are already using blockchain technology to disrupt the industry.
These days, more and more businesses are accepting cryptocurrency payments. Local shops and eCommerce businesses alike are opening their coffers to crypto. Hundreds of startups now offer cryptocurrency payment processing for small businesses. There is even a Chrome extension that allows Amazon shoppers to pay with crypto, and the company offers 3% back on all Bitcoin purchases!
Blockchain is already disrupting the way money moves. Even JP Morgan, the largest bank in the US, is developing a blockchain with the help of Microsoft. The disruption is so extensive that regulators are still playing catch-up. While governments try to figure out how to put a lid on crypto anarchy, blockchain technology keeps improving and crypto payments could eventually become commonplace for digital marketers.
Digital marketers rely on web browsers to display their ads, but blockchain technology could change the way browsing works. The current business model isn’t particularly beneficial for either users or advertisers. The real winners are the companies with a stranglehold on the ad market: Google and Facebook. Combined, they rake in 73% of all digital ad spending, but at what cost? There’s a reason more than 600 million phones and desktops are running ad-block software.
The Brave browser is one example of how blockchain can turn the established business model on its head. When users engage with ads, Brave pays them with a type of cryptocurrency, called Basic Attention Tokens. Brave also blocks all unwanted content and tracking cookies, so users don’t become ‘ad-blind’. Advertisers use the same currency to fund ads, so ad spend flows from advertisers to publishers and users with no unwanted middlemen in between.
Advertisers generate more engaged leads with their ad budgets, publishers don’t have to fork over a percentage of their revenues to third parties, and users get compensated for their time. It’s a win-win-win for the advertiser, publishers, and users alike.
The fringes of the digital marketing industry are like the wild west. Scoundrels and schemers run rampant. In fact, a study from Juniper Research determined that ad fraud costs businesses $51 million per day. Marketers can be easily duped by shady websites and fraudulent bot clicks. Last year alone, bots caused over $7.2 billion in fraud damages. There has to be a better way!
This is where blockchain comes in. Since blockchain technology is transparent and decentralized, every ad placement can be automatically recorded and placed into an incorruptible blockchain ledger. The entire database is totally transparent, so every ad can be tracked by the watchful eyes of its stakeholders along every step of the way.
Basic Attention Token is pioneering decentralized ad blockchain, but this is only the beginning. If blockchain marketing starts to see mass adoption, it could totally change the marketing landscape. Advertising blockchain can give power back to stakeholders and slam the brakes on Google’s digital dominance.
Blockchain: Good or Bad for Digital Marketers?
Let’s face it, the digital marketing space could use some cleaning up. A little more honesty and transparency never hurt. Third-party agencies might not like the idea of getting cut out, but technological progress ceases for no one. Digital marketing is an extremely competitive business, and marketers need to adapt to new technology if they want to achieve long-lasting success.
Never fear new technology; embrace it. Blockchain will create a more transparent, honest environment for digital marketers. What we see today is a technology in its infancy. Just like gigantic 1980s cell phones evolved into modern smartphones, today’s blockchain applications offer only a small peek at this technology’s ultimate potential.
For now, there isn’t enough adoption of the blockchain technology for you to change the way you are running your business or your marketing tech but it is definitely something you want to keep on your radar over the next 12-24 months.