Re-imagining your Brand in a Blockchain World

Published January 29, 2018

First, what is blockchain technology?

A blockchain is a decentralized and distributed digital ledger. Being decentralized and replicated across a massive network means that it is tamper-proof with each exchange being recorded and replicated for anyone with a smartphone or computer to see.

For this reason, blockchain tech has the potential to create transparency in an industry (marketing) historically plagued by distrust.

Think supply chain

As a consumer it’s not easy to verify the claims made by brands. How many times have consumers been surprised, even shocked, to find that their favourite brands weren’t in fact abiding by Fair Trade rules as they claimed to be; that, in fact, only certain lines of their clothing labels were child-labour free.

A good example of how blockchain technology could be utilised to increase user trust and engagement comes from Walmart who teamed up with IBM to use blockchain tech to allow consumers to track the production of their pork products from start (mostly at farms in China) to their shelves in the US. Blockchain allows the consumer to verify the identities of sellers and the authenticity of products with the potential to link back to source for everything. Imagine consumers could scan a barcode in your product that verified that your food is organic; that your clothes are locally produced? Competitors would need to be able to verify the same – consumers would be choosing you for all the right reasons given all the right information.

“Having decentralized ledgers and data storage allows visibility into creation and tracking, engagement and follow-through in news and ads.”

Mi-Ai Parrish

Think data security

“Blockchain ultimately anticipates that we’re going to see a future of publicness.”

Again, trust is a major issue in the current centralized system where middlemen hold all the information – institutions like banks, and organisations like Amazon, Google and Facebook control all data to a large degree. Once consumers hand over their data (sometimes unwittingly) it’s out of their control. For the marketing industry a growing concern must be the pervasive wariness on the part of consumers who are hesitant to hand over their data and also resentful that their data is used and can be manipulated often without their knowledge and/or permission. Let’s face it, this is the norm.

Now, imagine a system where people are compensated for sharing their data, rewarded in direct micro-payments for being on email lists for companies and brands that they love and respect. Imagine that individuals benefit directly and immediately from engaging with brands and sharing their data. Imagine that data can no longer be tampered with because human intervention has been moved to the perimeters and exchanges are now sanctioned and implemented by algorithms and processes like smart contracts and not by ‘middlemen’.

Think verification

Fraud — and the lack of transparency that enables it — is a growing problem for businesses around the world. The transparent public ledger that blockchain tech offers for paid advertising clicks could drastically reduce the current click fraud epidemic that many advertisers are suffering from. There is an inordinate number of middlemen along the path leading from ad to intended audience. It is currently very difficult to understand who has seen ads, when and where. Decentralized blockchain tech reduces reporting time, improves reporting accuracy, reduces fraud, and reduces costs in the advertising supply chain and at each point provides verified data for marketers to analyse. Users/ consumers hold verified identity profiles and exchange information with brands who themselves are kept in check with the transparency of a decentralized ledger.

In a world currently in seeming chaos following ‘mistrust events’ like the financial crisis in 2007, the social-media effect on the elections in the US and Brexit in the UK, the current ‘fake news’ epidemic… blockchain tech can be seen (perhaps idealistically but we all need something to hope for) as a light at the end of the tunnel as a way to mitigate this climate of mistrust. Brands take note, transparency is coming.