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Blockchain has been quite the buzzword in the last year. For all the conversation around it, however, many are still confused about what blockchain is or does.

First off, blockchain is not exclusive to Bitcoin, though many assume it is. Second, blockchain isn’t only for the finance world. It can work (and is starting to) within virtually any industry where money is involved.

So, basically all of them.

That said, what exactly is blockchain?

The simple explanation is that blockchain is a public ledger where transactions are recorded and then confirmed anonymously. The key benefit of blockchain is that once information is entered, it cannot be altered or removed.

While blockchain was originally designed for Bitcoin, its applications run far and wide. Blockchain is an “integrity decentralized technology.” And marketers have been eyeing it as a potential solution to some of their most pressing payment problems.

That’s what prompted us to ask industry experts, “How will blockchain technology impact marketing in the future?” The takeaways were clear. Blockchain will, for better or worse, change martech in four key ways:

  1. Better transparency and tracking will be possible
  2. Ad fraud will be less common, and brand safety will increase
  3. Trust in the marketer-customer relationship will change
  4. Making all the pieces fit together will be a challenge

Better transparency and tracking will be possible

Gurbaksh Chahal

Gurbaksh Chahal, Chief Executive Officer at Gravity4

“Those who understand the technology behind blockchain understand its biggest advantages. It is a decentralized digital ledger that enables automatic verification of transactions through peer-to-peer networks.”

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Areiel Wolanow

Areiel Wolanow, Managing Director at Finserv Experts

“Blockchains' immutability and shared ownership of transaction data are being used to develop content tagging and tracking systems that will be used to provide a reliable and monetizable record of who has seen a given piece of marketing content.

This kind of trusted record can serve as the basis for innovative — and far more accurate — pricing models.”

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Dean Anastos

Dean Anastos, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Blockchain Developers

“In advertising, advertisers typically see more than half of their ad dollar go to intermediaries and there's no visibility to how the ad is placed and how it performs. Also, there's no way of tracking fraudulent clicks. Since blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger recording peer-to-peer transactions, it offers more visibility into the ad-buying process.”

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Lindsey Galloway

Lindsey Galloway, Chief Marketing Officer at Rebel AI

“Blockchain promises a new era of transparency for marketers and consumers. With blockchain's auditable ledger, marketers will be able to more fully trace the sales cycle and attribution.

By providing new transparency into their supply partners, they'll also more fully understand how and where their marketing dollars are being spent.”

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Jake Bennett

Jake Bennett, Chief Technology Officer at POP

“[Blockchain] could provide much-needed transparency into the murky and complex world of programmatic media. Theoretically, blockchain would be the perfect solution for creating an unforgeable record of the journey of a digital ad, from insertion order, to real-time bidding, to ad serving.”

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Adam Fingerman

Adam Fingerman, Chief Experience Officer and Co-Founder at ArcTouch

“[At] a higher level, the promise of blockchain is guaranteed trust in a transaction, regardless of whatever industry the technology is applied to. And for marketers, increased trust is a good thing, especially between buyers and sellers.”

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Wayne Cichanski

Wayne Cichanski, Senior Director of Search Strategy at iQuanti

“Directionally, marketing at its core will stay the same as it always has, and as long as there is a supply there will be a demand for it.

However, with blockchain providing a more transparent, level setting platform for a truly user-centric focus environment, I would anticipate that digital marketing will be solidified and become much more granular.”

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Victor Ong

Victor Ong, Director of Marketing at Premio Inc.

“Companies will more easily establish trust between buyer and seller.”

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Reduce ad fraud, increase brand safety

Areiel Wolanow

Areiel Wolanow, Managing Director at Finserv Experts

“Provenance solutions will be invaluable in helping marketers protect the value of their brands in two ways.

First, they provide a record of authenticity that can be used to defeat counterfeiting and readily identify both buyers and sellers of low-quality goods that can damage the perception of a brand.

Second, the same kind of provenance verification can be used for marketing content, certifying that a message truly comes from the brand and not from a malicious outsider or unscrupulous rival.”

read more from Areiel

Gurbaksh Chahal

Gurbaksh Chahal, Chief Executive Officer at Gravity4

“Blockchain… will also further ensure brand safety by validating ad placements and transactions.

Most importantly, it has the ability to eliminate ad fraud across the industry. Each transaction is connected to the one before and the one after it, leading to a traceable history of every recorded event.”

read more from Gurbaskh

Kristoffer Nelson

Kristoffer Nelson, Chief Operating Officer at SRAX

“With blockchain, every ad impression can be verified against a graph of known users at the site level. This would eliminate fraud and remove the need for costly third-party verification and ad blocking service providers.”

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Kimberly Burghart

Kimberly Burghart, Director of Content at Miles Technologies

“[Currently] being built using blockchain technology… A new ad exchange that addresses issues with ad fraud, privacy, and consent.”

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Itamar Benedy

Itamar Benedy, Chief Executive Officer at Glispa Global Group

“A primary example would be using blockchain as a fraud protection tool, to identify bot versus human traffic, ensuring the legitimacy of all clicks or views.”

read more from Itamar

Dennis Lewis

Dennis Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at ICO Success

“For example, a transparent public ledger for paid advertising clicks could drastically reduce the current click fraud epidemic that many advertisers are suffering from.”

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Adam Fingerman

Adam Fingerman, Chief Experience Officer and Co-Founder at ArcTouch

“The early applications for blockchain that are being explored for marketing are primarily in the online advertising area to reduce fraud — validating and ensuring that ads are being served to humans, being viewed to completion and legitimately being clicked or tapped on.”

read more from Adam

It will change the marketer’s relationship with the consumers and data

Dan Salganik

Dan Salganik, Co-Founder at VisualFizz

“[There] are a number of blockchain companies that are allowing you to tip for good quality content on the web. This will be huge as influencers or content creators will begin to heavily take advantage of the new income stream.”

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Dennis Lewis

Dennis Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at ICO Success

“How will customers benefit from blockchain technology in marketing?

Imagine, for example, a system where people are compensated for being on email lists for companies and brands that they love and respect. In that type of scenario, the brands will have a highly targeted audience to communicate with while the participants won't need to feel like they've been duped by manipulative marketers. Both sides win.”

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Joaquim Miro

Joaquim Miro, Director of Marketing at MLG Blockchain Consulting

“Right now the information we use to analyze and segment target markets is offered in Silos. FB, Google, and separate websites all offer their information at a very high cost. But what if there was a way to get all that information in one place. Welcome to the Brave Browser. This browser allows for users to get paid directly to watch ads, rather than paying the Googles and Facebooks of this world. It blocks the trackers of thousands of websites and hackers and becomes the sole point of information in web browsing. This is only one of many changes we will see over the next few years.”

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Mark Mueller-Eberstein

Mark Mueller-Eberstein, Chief Executive Officer at Adgetec Corporation

“Marketers will have to pay each individual to get their attention. The good news is, there will be much greater trust in knowing that your advertising and outreach efforts are going exactly where you intended them to go.

The bad news is, 'pay for attention' will be required (attention of others will come with a price tag). When data moves out of proprietary systems onto open blockchains, data itself is no longer a competitive advantage.

Interpreting the data becomes the advantage. There will be a new way to implement and manage loyalty programs. Digital token programmability will remove friction from the settlement of loyalty points across multiple programs and companies.”

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Lindsey Galloway

Lindsey Galloway, Chief Marketing Officer at Rebel AI

“Customers will be able to have more control than ever over their identity online.

Already today, companies like MetaMask allow consumers to seamlessly integrate their "blockchain" identity with other websites online. This will allow customers to only share certain information with some companies, withhold it from others, and enable or revoke access to their personal data at any time. Blockchain will bring a new and more transparent relationship between brands and consumers.”

read more from Lindsey

Kimberly Burghart

Kimberly Burghart, Director of Content at Miles Technologies

“[Currently] being built using blockchain technology… A new content discovery platform that rewards users and publishers in order to circumvent ad-blockers.”

read more from Kimberly

Megan Miller

Megan Miller, Marketing Strategist at Edge Legal Marketing

“Blockchain technology is poised to drastically change marketing, by providing users with greater control over personal data and allowing them to receive monetary compensation for their online behavior and content.”

read more from Megan

Nelli Orlova

Nelli Orlova, Co-Founder at InnMind

“Nowadays we are all used to the fact that personal data, which all internet users provide on a global scale, is easily extracted and owned by big corporations like Google, Facebook, etc., which analyze, structure and then sell it out or use for creation of intensive targeting advertisement and personalized campaigns.

Blockchain will change this dramatically. Imagine a decentralized world, where individuals will have more control over their personal data, corporations will no longer maintain control of the personal data of internet users and marketing agencies won't be able to simply access personal data without personal allowance and acknowledgment of their customers anymore.”

read more from Nelli

Jake Rheude

Jake Rheude, Director of Marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment

“Blockchain can integrate with marketing software used by each of these three entities to track their KPIs, while simultaneously keeping hold of their data in one network. With the help of machine learning/artificial intelligence, it may analyze these different metrics and find correlations, such as leads from Facebook ads being more likely to download a new whitepaper than email subscribers.”

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Jase Rodley

Jase Radley, Principal at Otium Boutique

“I really feel there are a huge amount of unseen opportunities for blockchain technology to change current marketing practices. This is probably scary for traditional marketers who are overwhelmed for choice, but for those willing to embrace new technology, they'll run rings around their competition."

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Making all the pieces fit together will be a challenge

Itamar Benedy

Itamar Benedy, Chief Executive Officer at Glispa Global Group

“Another issue with blockchain is that in order to work, all of the players in a chain need to use the same protocols. Think about how many middlemen the adtech industry has and how difficult it would be to get each and every one of these companies using the same protocols. It will take years at best, and lots of industry consolidation, to get everyone on board with blockchain.”

read more from Itamar

Rob Weatherhead

Rob Weatherhead, Digital Advertising Consultant at Agent Wolf, LTD

“The bigger challenge in solving these problems is the number of people involved in getting a single solution, and the amount of money at stake, with some people set to be worse off as a result.

Decentralized solutions have worked for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as they were there from the start. Trying to introduce them to an established ecosystem with fierce competition is a different matter.”

read more from Rob

Rodrigo Montagner

Rodrigo Montagner, Chief Executive Officer at OM2 Tech Consulting

“Imagine the whole process of building blocks and blocks of information connecting customers and producers (or sales and clients) directly.

The question is now how blockchain will evolve from this point on, plus how the combination of AI bots and automation will affect our seemingly irreplaceable human creativity.”

read more from Rodrigo