One of the focus areas for last month’s Unconference was Blockchain. A buzzword for sure. And possibly the most misunderstood, widely abused term in the world since “influencer”. Nonetheless, almost any brand that fancies itself to be innovative and technology-driven is taking a good long look at the potential of blockchain technology.
For marketers, blockchain opens up a world of possibilities to engage with consumers in a post-GDPR world. So, with that in mind, it was no wonder that Mark Noorlander’s session was so hotly anticipated. As the co-founder of leading blockchain studio, Flashboys, Mark has been at the forefront of many blockchain projects and is ideally placed to offer advice on deploying technology in marketing campaigns.
Blockchain - more than just Bitcoin
Every discussion about blockchain needs to start with a “simple” explanation of what blockchain is any why it’s not just about cryptocurrencies. Essentially, blockchain is technology that enables transactions between two parties without the need for a 3rd party to verify things - instead it creates consensus via the community. It is made up of five elements, only one of which is new tech.
1) Ledger - a way to record the transactions digitally rather than scribbling on papyrus.
2) P2P network - a way to share information or resources amongst a community, similar to sharing movies via Torrent.
3) Hash - used to get the ledger into one sharing function.
4) Public key - like a transparent box; everyone can see what’s inside, but only the keyholder can take things in.
5) Miners - the only “new” element; essentially a group of computers calculating outcomes and acting as the verification barrier for transactions.
Confused? So were we. But really, you don’t always need to know how a supercar works, you just need to know what it can do. And what you can do with it.
GDPR is already outdated!
Bad news for those who’ve been responsible for GDPR compliance over the last couple of years. Blockchain technology protocols already render it outdated in terms of anonymity and data security.
At its heart the value of blockchain lies in the immutability of smart contracts. The hacking horror stories you hear in the news involve APIs or other bolt-ons, the technology itself is unhackable. Well, technically it’s possible to override the blockchain but to do so requires something like 550x the processing power of Google. And what would be worth that?
The beauty of blockchain in data is that is both information-rich and totally anonymous and so is by nature GDPR compliant. Yet, the information contained already allows you to build up a good profile of the target consumer. The move from anonymous online node to personally identifiable information is one that requires consumers to actively opt in and thus, offer their consent freely. To get that consent you need to offer the consumer something that they really value and then use it to get something of value to your brand.
Exploring the potential for blockchain in marketing
Imagine a world where, as a marketer, you could target with a customer without a middleman/channel taking their cut. Deploy a programmatic strategy with minimal wastage and combat ad fraud. Create genuine 1-1 relationships while respecting privacy. These are all areas where blockchain is already making a difference and the opportunities for engagement and relationship building are almost unlimited.
So, is blockchain the ultimate retargeting machine or ultimate form of privacy? The real question is, does it really matter when you consider all the marketing possibilities that this technology can provide?