Digital marketing is a huge field. In the U.S alone, companies are on pace to spend about $120 billion in digital marketing by 2021, making it one of the biggest playing fields for businesses looking to promote their brands.
Still, it remains an industry fraught with issues.
From extreme bot-controlled automation to the increasing difficulty for publishers to guarantee data privacy and transparency, digital marketing continues to cause problems for all players involved, more so for businesses that pay huge sums of cash to get their brands in front of potential customers.
These and other issues are further compounded by the numerous challenges facing businesses trying to get mileage on search engines without spending significantly on ads.
In one study conducted by a Canadian-based digital marketing company, 1stOnTheList.com, researchers found that only about 6 percent of new website pages will rank in the top 10 search results on Google within a year, making it difficult for new businesses to find customers on the internet – at least without the services of ad-tech middlemen who often sacrifice quality and relevance for clicks.
There’s hope, however.
Blockchain, the encrypted, decentralized database of distributed and interlinked nodes, is particularly suited for integration with digital marketing. Blockchain promises to solve many of the issues that come with digital marketing, including data privacy, security and content monetization.
Here are a few ways blockchain technologies are helping fan the next wave of innovation for the digital marketing world.
Improved transparency and privacy
Data is the centerpiece that holds the digital marketing industry together. Businesses and ad agencies use data to fine-tune targeting strategies, measure engagement and improve other facets of marketing, making data a central piece within this space.
However, data privacy and transparency have always been critical issues for consumers. The recent Facebook data scandal, for instance, reminded us of the huge potential for data misuse that currently exists, a trend that could potentially see users limit the amount of information they share online out of fear.
This is one of the areas that blockchain-based technologies could help improve. Because blockchain is a secure and decentralized platform, advertisers can use the platform to maintain an open and complete ledger of data transactions involving the consumer.
Some companies like blockchain startup Online.io and cable giant Comcast are already developing blockchain platforms to help businesses and consumers handle consumer data. The Online.io solution, for instance, lets users browse the internet in an ad-free browser while rewarding publishers with tokens for the time users spend on their websites, thus creating a win-win situation for everyone in the digital ad space.
For years, businesses and ad platforms have made heavy investments to help find the best methods to deliver the right ads to the right consumers for increased conversations. Still, the internet continues to be heavily populated with irrelevant, slow-loading and often intrusive ads, a trend that has seen many consumers take to ad-blocking software for protection.
But at the same time, one report found that close to 80 percent of users with ad-blockers would like to see some types of ads, especially if they were personalized, which means while consumers don’t necessarily like ads, they’d be OK with ads that make sense to them.
Again, this is another area that could potentially benefit from the blockchain, with a number of players exploring different ways the blockchain could be used to improve targeting.
One good example is Brave, the ad-blocking browser invented by Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich. Brave provides a unique platform that literally compensates users (with Basic Attention Tokens, BATs) for their time with ads on the platform and for sharing information that would allow businesses to target them intentionally.
Another example is BitClave, a blockchain platform that lets users add their personal data on the platform in exchange for tokens. This platform envisions a situation where people use their free search engine for everyday activities, and businesses that want to target these users with ads have to compensate them, creating another win-win for everyone in the industry.
There are a ton of examples that show just how ripe the digital marketing industry is for disruption by the blockchain. There’s still a long way to go, however, and industry players will have to embrace blockchain technologies en masse for any of these solutions to work.