Ever since trading began, people agreed to purchase something because they believed the seller’s word and that the latter had nothing to hide. But somewhere along the way, suspicion sneaked in as marketers started lying about all sorts of questions. Did your steak really come from free-range cows which were not raised on antibiotics? Or is it just another marketing trick?
In such a scenario, how does one know the truth?
Well, the unadulterated answer could come with a new technology that promises to bring full transparency to the market. It’s called blockchain in marketing. Think of it as a tamper-proof digital ledger that records all the transactions that had ever transpired and everything is open for anyone to check the veracity of any entry anytime.
Details like the origin of that steak, how it was produced, and what went into it will be available to consumers. Lies are discouraged, and trust is restored. In fact, the technology could bring even more benefits that, until now, had seemed unimaginable.
On the advertising front, for example, potential consumers like you could get paid just for watching an ad. You’ll also be aware of the full product history from the supply chain to point of sale. You’ll know not only how the data that you’ve given away to marketers had been used, but have a say on how it should be used. But most importantly, you can take out the cost-inflating middleman from the marketing equation since you can make buying decisions on your own terms.
Doubts Blocking the Way
The advantages of blockchain in marketing surely sound fantastic, but will we see the technology transforming marketing universally any time soon?
Unfortunately, there are still a few hurdles standing in the technology’s way. The biggest challenge facing blockchain in marketing is speed. While a real-time ad-tech exchange is delivered in milliseconds, blockchain validation takes 10 to 30 seconds per transaction. Of course, you can use the technology as an after-the-fact tool. But who wants to get left behind in an industry where having timely information is money?
The blockchain is also raising eyebrows for being too complicated. Its glossary of terms could intimidate even C-level marketing brass who may not be familiar with technical language or too busy to contemplate what it means when ‘miners add blocks to the chain’. Managing the learning curve could further delay blockchain’s smooth implementation.
Finally, and here’s where blockchain could really hit marketers where it hurts, the technology is expensive to implement. That’s what happens when advertisers start compensating customers for providing them their personal information or watching their ads — things which they used to get for free.
That’s a lot for marketing people to think about. But then again, didn’t they experience the same befuddlement (and intimidation) when the Internet first started changing the face of commerce?
Blockchain in Marketing Applications
Blockchain can really change the face of marketing by breaking from the traditional ways transactions are conducted. Let’s examine a few applications.
- Each user is validated and verified in the blockchain, allowing both the website and the advertiser to deal directly with each other through self-executing smart contracts.
- A decentralized search engine allows the hyper-targeting of ads so that consumers see only those that they’re interested in.
- Advertisers need permission before getting personal information or engaging a consumer’s attention because all user data is encrypted in the blockchain.
- A network of blockchain-verified signatures allows users to keep their personal data and use it as a key to access apps or websites.
- Gift cards, coupons, and other reward items can be converted into digital wallets which can be redeemed in a single transaction.
- A loyalty program using blockchain technology takes the form of a public ledger for easy exchange and verification between program users.
- Multiple sources of quality consumer data are tapped to ensure that the demographic and psychographic profiles used to assemble an audience are legitimate.
- The origin of data is identified and analyzed thereby confirming the veracity of individual elements such as age, income, or interest.
- Influencers can create a blockchain-based community to pursue campaigns or initiate a decentralized application to create online stores.
- By incorporating tokens in a decentralized network, influencers can launch transparent crowdfunding campaigns with payments through cryptocurrencies and enabled by smart contracts.
Blockchain in marketing is starting to gain adherents, but not a few are discouraged by the slowness and costs it entails. These are concerns that the technology must find ways to immediately address. After all, the promise of restoring trust via full transparency is an irresistible selling point.