A lot is being written at the moment about Blockchain technology and the part is going to play in the development of the web. It’s often talked about in conjunction with Bitcoin, the virtual currency and that makes perfect sense as without Blockchain there could be no way of managing a shared view of the value or ownership of Bitcoin. But the impact of Blockchain will be much bigger than that and will become a game changer for some industries and play a pivotal role in many areas of marketing.
Firstly what is Blockchain and what does it do? At its simplest it is a distributed ledger, a set of data records that are run in parallel across thousands if not millions of computers that can transact and record any number things. It’s the combination of state of the art cryptography and the distributed nature of the database that means that it can’t be hacked (or more correctly an individual computer can be hacked but if that changed record doesn’t agree with the millions of other computers, then that change is rejected)
This has obvious appeal to the financial services sector and banking and insurance in particular are likely to see the rapid adoption of Blockchain to support and even manage their underlying services. The challenge for these industries will to ensure Blockchain is a tool for them, rather than an alternative. Longer term Blockchain will spread to any industry which requires a highly secure and transparent record of transactions of any sort; data, goods and of course money. And as it is a peer to peer technology, as it moves into a sector it is likely to transform it by potentially removing the existing intermediary players that currently manage and record transactions.
So how will it affect the marketing sector? Well like any other industry, marketing involves contracts, record keeping and payment transactions and Blockchain offers a simple route to a secure, transparent and global solution. However there are other opportunities more specific to marketing; such as recording and verifying activity and spend across social media platforms eg. Facebook or LinkedIn. Blockchain can also be used to verify goods through supply chains which are of particular value for brands claiming sustainable / green credentials as well as high value goods, where providence is everything.
At is heart Blockchain provided a system that can be shared and trusted by everyone without necessarily using an expensive intermediary. For CMFG Marketing, the most likely area for immediate take up is the booking, tracking and reporting of digital advertising; an area that until recently has been a wild west of different measures, standards and let’s say it, honesty. A transparent system that is consistent across the globe will provide an excellent foundation to creating a globally recognised reporting standard for digital advertising which can only be a good thing for marketing.