Now, I know what some of you are thinking.
Blockchain – *insert eye-roll* – was nothing but hype to begin with, and even that hype is waning.
It has been a decade since the person, or persons, known by the alias Satoshi Nakamoto first released the white paper, Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer Electronic cash system. They also released the first cryptocurrency in tandem with the paper, the now infamous Bitcoin.
Then suddenly, we kind of just stopped talking about it.
But in this blog post, I will explain why I think blockchain’s greatest hits are still to come and how it may yet usher in a much-needed revolution.
Ok, one last time…what is blockchain?
You’ve heard it before, but let’s take it step-by-step one last time.
Blockchain are time-stamped records of data. These records are immutable – they cannot be altered – both because of the time stamp and because they are managed by clusters of computers.
This also means no single entity controls nor stores them – making it decentralised.
Each individual record, or ‘block’ of data, is bound to the next block using the principles of cryptography (hence, secured on a cryptographic ‘chain’).
It’s like the internet, but better
You don’t need to know how IP addresses, pings, routers, and ISPs all fit together to understand how to use the internet. Similarly, we won’t all need doctorates in blockchain tech before we’re able to make practical use of it.
And, as it’s immutable, a decentralised internet can give us something our current framework isn’t capable of – trust.
Trust that the article you’re reading is actually from that expert. Or, that a transaction will be completed safely without the need for oversight.
Digital trust – an absolute game-changer.
And this attribute gives it the potential to transform an industry where a lack of trust is one of the biggest challenges for those who work in it:
According to Statista, almost 3 billion social media accounts belong to non-human entities – spambots, likebots, chatbots and other software meant to impersonate real people.
Influencer marketing has made this problem even worse as it has given some a financial incentive to acquire fake followers. According to Social Chain, a whopping 25% of ‘influencers’ have bought followers/engagement through illegal bot farms or similarly unscrupulous means.
Wayne Lloyd, founder and CEO of Smarter Contracts, estimates that this comes to a staggering £15bn every year in wasted marketing.
That’s £40m a day being spent by brands to advertise to robots.
“Middle-men are trusted in marketing to do such things as bringing buyers to real sellers,” explained Lloyd at an event.
“But the reality is far less comforting”.
How blockchain is going to disrupt marketing
So, how does this help us usher in a new era of marketing?
On the more ambitious end, if we move onto a blockchain-powered internet, online adverts as they exist today may become a thing of the past. Brands may begin paying users to view ads through a tokenised system (like the premise bitcoin is built on).
Instead of plastering ads all over the internet, we may even end up with hyper-personalised ads in the near future.
We will also start combining smart contracts – self-executing agreements – with decentralised apps (d’Apps) created on platforms like Ethereum. This will enable businesses of any size to conduct secure, self-contained transactions directly (and only) with their customers.
And even once you’ve bought an item, there are still so many benefits you can derive from a blockchain integrated marketing system. Even the immutable ledger could be used to offer added value to customers.
For example, a firm plans to release wine bottles with QR codes on them by 2020. When scanned, customers will be able to find out where, when and how the grapes were pressed, even the carbon footprint of a single bottle.
This could be a more concrete way for future firms to prove their commitment to sustainability and help consumers make better-informed choices.
Too practical to fail?
While it’s easy to dismiss blockchain as another failed piece of tech, I wouldn’t be so quick.
It might be struggling to find its way, but the technology simply has too many practical benefits for the world we are building to just fade away.
And if you’re a marketer of any stripe, figuring out how you can add more value to your services is always a wise move.