Blockchain is the buzzword of the moment, but the hype around the technology is warranted. To put it simply, blockchain is a fundamental rethinking of how data is tracked online. Instead of recording data in a traditional database, blockchain technology uses a distributed ledger (essentially a transparent, yet secure record of transactions) and consensus algorithms to store data in a decentralized manner. The end result is that this gives consumers more control over their data, while giving organizations new ways to use that data.

At its core, blockchain operates on a trustless principle that ensures no central authority has to be in place in order for a transaction (financial or otherwise) to take place successfully. For many consumers, blockchain is already proving to be a guarantor of security and trust that previously hasn’t existed between brands and consumers. In the future, this will likely prove to be a boon to brands and retailers around the world – particularly since building trust with their consumers is now one of the biggest issues facing marketers today.

While most of the press around blockchain is dedicated to its role in the cryptocurrency space, what’s most intriguing are its use cases outside of crypto. It’s a technology that’s already impacting industries as diverse as medical testing and container shipping, and marketing is the next frontier. Though still a nascent technology, blockchain is poised to disrupt the world of marketing, and as it matures, marketing practitioners will soon have another tool to add to their MarTech toolkit. Even though blockchain is still in the early stages of its development, organizations would do well to learn how the technology works, and think about ways to leverage it in their future marketing automation efforts.

Read on for the five key ways we see blockchain transforming the marketing automation space, as well as which innovative startups are already putting this technology to work in their marketing efforts today.

1. Tokenized marketing content will give prospects control of their data

Blockchain technology enables organizations to compensate consumers for the use of their data through digital assets. Using blockchain technology, marketers are able to target specific groups of consumers for advertising, and only serve up ads if the consumer has explicitly opted into seeing advertisements around a given type of content. For those in the marketing automation space, this is incredibly helpful, as it increases conversion rates while decreasing ad wastage.

Tokenized marketing is an effective way for marketers to build trust with their consumers, and it’s a win-win for both parties. Consumers receive compensation for viewing advertisements, and organizations are able to build their marketing datasets and level of consumer trust in tandem.

Though tokenized marketing is still in its infancy, several startups are working on the concept, or implementing it themselves already. US-based Coupit is a startup that’s building a blockchain-driven incentivization platform that will allow marketers to automatically run digital ads to certain groups of opted-in consumers, or even offer exclusive discounts in exchange for viewing advertising content. And Sweet’s social marketing platform promises to give brands a new way to build social loyalty with consumers, all while tracking their marketing data on the blockchain.

2. Reduced advertising fraud

It’s no secret that advertising fraud can cost marketers millions of dollars a year in misspent costs. In fact, according to Forrester, in 2016 up to 56% of marketers’ advertising spend was lost last year due to fraudulent inventory. That said, blockchain just might provide a solution to this age-old problem. By leveraging blockchain technology to run digital ads, marketing automation teams will be able to see specifically who viewed their organization’s ads – and quickly cut off any fraudulent or bot-driven advertising activity before it starts.

Startups like ClearCoin are already building software to shift the entire process of media buying and deployment onto the blockchain, and several large brands are already beta-testing its platform. ClearCoin’s platform is unique in that all ad transactions are tracked on a distributed ledger, which makes the digital advertising process transparent to both digital marketers and consumers.

Blockchain technology empowers marketers to fight display advertising fraud with ease, and it’s worth thinking about how making your organization’s advertising processes more transparent could benefit your bottom line in the future.

3. Improved SEO with enhanced tracking capabilities

Though still in the early stages of development, another potential marketing use case for blockchain lies in the SEO realm. Since the quality of every organization’s SEO is based primarily on the quality of its traffic (regardless of source), in the future, blockchain technology could help organizations ensure high-quality inbound traffic to boost their SEO.

Marketing automation practitioners will be able to set up advertising campaigns on the blockchain to drive traffic back to their landing pages as they do today, but with the added benefit of being able to guarantee the authenticity of inbound SEO traffic. Organizations that have implemented a tokenized marketing program will also be able to track consumer activity across their entire site at an individual level, and compensate prospects or customers for their activity accordingly – especially if their online activity happens to be a buying signal.

4. Optimized cross-platform digital advertising for brands and retailers

Optimizing one’s digital advertising efforts online is a key area of focus for the blockchain marketing community right now. A number of projects are already underway to see how blockchain technology can be leveraged to optimize an organization’s digital marketing efforts, and early signs have been promising.

One such startup, SaTT, is looking to put the entire digital marketing lifecycle on the blockchain. The startup is seeking to leverage smart contracts throughout the digital advertising process as a way to improve the relationship between marketers and content providers. On the SaTT platform, a digital advertising campaign will be only executed after a smart contract containing the metrics for a given campaign has been verified. The use of smart contracts makes transparency central to the digital advertising process, and this use case will likely become more common in other areas of the marketing stack in the future.

5. Enhanced customer marketing, and improved loyalty

Improving customer loyalty through relevant marketing is one of the most exciting use cases for blockchain. With as few as 39% of marketing executives reporting that they understand their customers’ cross-device behaviors, the need for a better understanding on this front has never been greater.

By using platforms like Momentum and Triggmine, organizations now have the ability to track all of their customer marketing efforts in one place, while tokenizing their customer outreach efforts at the same time. By using such platforms, marketing automation practitioners can run token-based incentive schemes across multiple channels – which is beneficial for both operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

By executing customer marketing through a blockchain-based platform, organizations can identify the ideal touchpoints for engaging with each customer at an individual level, and customize their outreach efforts across different channels. Such solutions allow brands and retailers to track customer engagement at a deeper level than ever before, and this enhanced tracking unlocks additional opportunities for marketers to engage with consumers and gain their trust.

In Summary…

It’s clear that though the maturation of blockchain technology is still in the early stages, it’s not too early for organizations to start thinking about how to implement it in their marketing stack moving forward. Some of the aforementioned use cases are already possible today, while others remain in the imminent future – but what’s certain is that the technology will likely transform marketing as we know it much sooner than later. By investigating ways to leverage blockchain technology in their marketing efforts today, organizations can gain an immediate advantage over the competition of tomorrow.

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