Digital Marketing Through Blockchain: Historic Changes are Underway

Marketing back in ye olde days was known by another name: Trade
At first glance, we imagine marketing has been around for a few hundred years but in actual fact, trading has existed for the past 17 000 yrs! The above arrowhead was a hit back in the Stone Age and “merchants” with an abundance of raw material would have “advertised” their wares in exchange for skins/furs or other valuable items.

The entire world and its 3rd cousin have moved into the digital space. When one thinks about a formidable business plan, we’ve moved beyond traditional methods like billboards and tv spots. If anything, our main thought jumps onto online resources that helps our business to grow within the global arena: should I pay for mobile advertising? Who has the bigger piece of the pie – Apple or Android? What’s my biggest target demographic? Which region should I focus on? Should I partner with Netflix or Hulu?

Questions abound leading to in-depth studies, surveys and plain punting-for-business anyway you can. “According to the March 2018 edition of Zenith’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, published today, online advertising grew by 13.7% in 2017 to US$204bn” That’s pretty much the entire GDPs of more than a dozen countries!

Blockchain and Digital Marketing – A Match made in Heaven?

Upgrades in technology have also led to stiffer competition in the e-commerce space. Bigger does not equate to better. Costlier advertising does not guarantee your product or service will succeed. What’s more, we now need to worry about 3rd parties illegally accessing or legally purchasing (which is worse??) our data. Bots, fraudulent ads, spam marketing – all irritating and most completely unnecessary. Companies that rely on these usually do so when providing free, popular content. Ad Blockers, depending on the website in question (thanks Forbes…) block content unless they can monetize said content. It’s pretty similar to a subscription but much sneakier. Google holds the monopoly on advertising so are they partly responsible for the rampant abuse where advertising is concerned? What can blockchain do for the digital marketing space?

The need for privacy and security is greater than ever

For one thing, blockchain is synonymous with trust and transparency – something users desperately need. After the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Scandal, people were ready to burn Facebook at the proverbial stake. Digital marketing, depending on who you talk to, can have a positive or negative spin. Remember television ads? If we wanted to avoid an ad, all we had to do was change channels. Not so easily accomplished with today’s AI technology that “learns on the go”. I recall doing a search on Google a few weeks ago. A few days later, practically every page I visited had placed an ad about that very product. What boggles the mind is that I did not purchase the item, I merely read up on it for clarification. That led to me wondering about my privacy settings and hidden trackers. Can digital marketers afford to be shunned in this day and age? Can blockchain really change the face of digital marketing?

Benefits?

What have we learnt so far? Advertising has become a menace with larger-than-life issues. Consumers, advertisers, publishers – we’re at war and that’s just not good for business. Blockchain is the only tool capable of setting the digital marketing industry on its heels by:

Giving consumers the chance to understand how and where their data is being used
Restrict outdated access to consumer data
Compensating all relevant parties involved in the ad’s creation, delivery and performance, these include publishers, agencies, tech developers and creators etc.
Verifying “actual” engagement of ads and preventing spam
Compensating consumers for implicit (behavioral) and explicit (identifiable information) data
Verifying true influencers with actual followings i.e. no bots or fake accounts
Rewarding consumers for great content, especially when related to a brand campaign.
Validating solid reward programs and eliminate fraudulent participant activity
Publishers and advertisers can utilize content created by the public (paying for or licensing the work). These include freelance musicians, artists, photographers etc.
Authenticating every transaction
Tracking delivery of content to targeted groups
Using blockchain to minimize fraud, spam, phishing and hacking.

Companies Stepping Up the Digital Marketing Game

AdEx – AdEx (Advertising Exchange) sees itself as the good guy aimed at changing the existing digital advertising landscape by addressing the most virulent issues: “advertising fraud, privacy and consent to receiving sponsored messages, and the protection of consumer data”. AdEx provides its solution via 3 avenues: the publisher, advertiser and user that work in tandem providing an optimal outcome.

Oyster Pearl – Has named itself as the “future of website monetization and distributed storage. Site visitors contribute a small portion of their CPU and GPU power to enable users’ files to be stored on safely and anonymously. Site owners get paid indirectly by the storage users and website visitors can enjoy an ad-free browsing experience.” They’re basically going one step further in utilizing blockchain technology by throwing ads out the window entirely.

Basic Attention Token (BAT) – This ico plainly states, in purple no less, “Digital advertising is broken.” Through the use of its token and the Brave browser, advertisers, publishers and users have the opportunity of delivering wanted content. The token is utilized within the ecosystem as both payment (advertiser -> publisher) and reward (participation of users). The platform offers less fraud, increased percentage of rewards, better performance and retention.

Joint Ventures – Designed to weed out expensive, unnecessary process i.e. middlemen, Joint Ventures’ revenue structure, data protection and transparency are there to solidify a new era in digital marketing. Though they have yet to identify a niche market in their pilot phase, their motto: “create an economy for online publishers that rewards every participant of the network, including authors, commenters and advertisers alike, and minimize third-party commissions” is a much needed one that places financial rewards in the right hands…finally.

Thrive – Thrive states their users receive tokens as rewards for browsing the web and reviewing content quality – earning while you browse takes on new meaning. Data collected from consumers remains anonymous is anonymized and placed on the blockchain. Advertisers and publishers can secure premium spots with high conversion rates at under 10% fees compared with the current 30-50%.

NXAD – The first thing that strikes you about NXAD is their idea of communal success – “Anyone can be an advertiser. Anyone can be a sharer”. Their aim in transforming the digital content landscape boils down to 3 principles: Simple. Decentralized. Cost-effective. In an age where the minimum percentage of one’s advertising budget ( research suggests this is at least 50%) is snatched by middleman, NXAD offers everyone the chance to share exciting content, anywhere, at any time. Whether you’re an ardent follower or just surfing the web, one can do what they love and earn NXA tokens at the same time.

Will blockchain hurt current marketers? Not if they plan on moving with the times. Consumer involvement is key to any successful marketing plan, and by the looks of things, consumers are ready for the next phase: stronger security, a trustworthy system and relevant content.