This is a guest blog article by Sheila Kloefkorn of KEO Marketing.
Have you been following Bitcoin in the news? Bitcoin is perhaps the most well-known cryptocurrency, a form of encrypted digital currency that does not rely on a centralized bank to allow parties to use peer-to-peer transactions. Perhaps you, like others, are waiting and watching the marketplace to determine how Bitcoin will shake out over time. What you should not want to wait around to learn about is the foundational technology behind Bitcoin known as blockchain. Blockchain is poised to take over the business and marketing world; some are going so far as to call it the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” But is it the game changer everyone says it is?
Blockchain: The Game Changer
In the early days of the Internet, few could have imagined, or predicted, how pervasive the Internet would become throughout our lives. But now, with social media, home assistants such as Alexa and Google Home, virtual and augmented reality gaming, and devices from cars to refrigerators connected to the web, our evolving usage of the Internet has fundamentally upended the ways in which we interact with our surroundings and with one another.
Blockchain, with its ability to yield a more transparent, secure, and integrated experience is set to take these trends beyond even the limits of our current imagination. Much in the same way that early iterations of the Internet captivated its audience nearly 30 years ago, blockchain holds that same unbounded potential to be the game changer, revolutionizing nearly every aspect of our lives. But how does a seemingly simple technological innovation, one that has been floating around on the internet for more than a decade, make this possible? Think “trust” and “authenticity.”
Blockchain Offers Trust, Authenticity
The primary problem with the Internet, during the first decades of its active use, has been, according to Professor Daniel E. O’Leary at the University of Southern California, “how to verify that the information received from [a] network is authentic and up-to-date.” The problem of authentication stems from the fact that when we move data from one source to another, each step of the process can potentially be corrupted. If we just look at the growing pervasiveness of cyber attacks, from massive corporate data breaches to foreign interference in national elections, it is easy to understand how this corruption manifests in our daily lives and how, as our usage of the Internet expands to IoT, automation, and augmented reality, our inability to confront these threats could hamper the growth of these new technologies and discourage innovation.
Blockchain has the potential to undo the threat of attack and restore trust and authenticity to our experience of the Internet. At its core, Blockchain is a massive “distributed” ledger or database that operates on a decentralized network. Individuals can add massive amounts of data to the database, and once that data is on the network, it is immutable—no one can change or delete it, and more importantly, because of the transparency of blockchain and its end-to-end encryption, that information becomes essentially “censorship-resistant and tamper-proof.” This means businesses can perform transactions with customers and with one another with complete transparency and a sense of total security. Every detail of a transaction displays in the “ledger” of the blockchain, but it is completely secure. No one can alter or otherwise disrupt the data from carrying out its function, whether that entails a transfer of currency or the functions of an automated vehicle.
For businesses and marketers, blockchain offers a foundation of truth and authenticity on which to build new campaigns. Trust will be allowed flourish between brands and customers based on transparency. Customers can be sure whether or not a piece of advertising is authentic and verify if the representative they are interacting with is a person or an automated bot. From the perspective of the marketer, blockchain can help advertisers construct digital identities of individuals in their target audience, allowing for greater personalization in marketing campaigns.
Here are a few other innovations made possible by the integration of blockchain technology into business and marketing:
Blockchain Can End Ad Fraud
The promise of blockchain forces us to consider how ad delivery might change in the future. In the case of paid, targeted advertising, marketers may no longer have to struggle to determine whether their audience received an ad and estimate how long they viewed it. Blockchain’s transparent structure allows for quick and easy verification of ad engagement and performance. For example, marketers can establish a secure ad space where impression tracking can be verified on the blockchain and companies can be sure they are getting the most out of their ad spend.
The potential for blockchain to provide marketers and their audience with truth, immediacy, and accuracy in their ad experience is significant. Marketers can now get excited about new levels of targeting for their campaigns.
Using Blockchain To Manage Customer Data
Obtaining actionable customer data and driving prospects toward your product are the goals of marketing campaigns today. The potential to collect and synthesize your customer data on the blockchain is immense. What if you paid your customers in tokens for data such as psychographic and behavioral attributes? You could reward individuals for sharing with you their purchase plans and personal interests.
In turn, companies could build greater trust by offering transparency to their customers in the way they use that data for their marketing campaigns. Since blockchain removes the “middleman” and ensures data accuracy and security, you will have the opportunity to build customer trust, loyalty, and engagement.
Blockchain provides accountability
For years, marketing campaigns have stressed corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a competitive advantage. Companies, i.e. the ones tasked with carrying out the ideals of CSR, however, rarely communicate to their customers whether they ever delivered on their social promises. With the ability of blockchain to ensure accurate and truthful transactions, customers can easily verify the fidelity of corporate or product claims. Consider how individuals could check on sustainability or legal practices in real-time with complete trust. Marketers will need to design their messaging to amplify evolving corporate practices to reflect greater honesty and transparency.
In addition, your customers can verify that influencers are really individuals who meet your brand’s criteria. Businesses, in turn, can verify the identities of their social media followers and separate bots from real people.
Blockchain technology is gaining in prevalence, and marketers should take notice. Both experts and leaders in the marketplace agree that we are on the front end of a massive new technology that has the potential to reshape our lives, much in the same way as the Internet has over the past three decades. Embrace blockchain, keep up with the latest trends, and you will have a head start on other marketers when blockchain becomes the new internet.