Blockchain’s Impact On Marketing
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How does blockchain impact YOU as a marketing or creative professional? To understand blockchain's impact on marketing, let’s get back to basics and ask: what is our role as creatives?
As marketers, my team at Pivot Six and I have distilled it down to two things:
- Marketers tell stories. Stories by way of words, graphic designs, images, videos, websites, blog posts and emails.
- Marketers create experiences that help brands, companies and organizations build awareness and/or increase sales.
4 Ways Blockchain Will Transform Marketing
Just like we use the DANA acronym in our introduction to blockchain, let’s employ the acronym TEAM to remember the four ways blockchain will disrupt the marketing space:
- Trust and transparency revolutionize everything
- Elimination of middlemen
- Authenticity becomes the norm
- More productivity
Impact #1: Trust and transparency revolutionize everything
As marketers, we create stories and experiences so that target audiences and stakeholders understand, absorb and get excited about a client’s products or services.
And so, a marketer’s responsibility extends far beyond the client. The stories we tell and the experiences we create are ultimately for the end-user of the products and services: the customer. And to successfully market to the customer, there needs to be an element of trust.
Recall that the three main benefits of blockchain are DANA:
These benefits radically transform the trust factor across all systems and processes in every single industry. Blockchain has even been called the “gatekeeper in the emerging trust economy.” Essentially, the introduction of blockchain will impact marketing by creating an element of absolute transparency and trust.
How trust is inherent in business today
Let’s use three examples in this analysis: a service, a product, and a platform.
Airbnb: People allow strangers into their homes because they trust previous reviews written about these strangers from other homeowners.
Fair trade chocolate: Customers purchase chocolate that is labelled ‘fair trade’ because they trust the story the brand has delivered about its ethical sourcing and purchasing practices.
Facebook ads: Marketers and brands trust the metrics and analytics shared by Facebook about the success of ads that they have run on the platform.
These three examples demonstrate how important trust is in our currency economy. Without trust, businesses would fall apart. Reputation is everything, which is why marketing is crucial.
Marketers help businesses establish trust with people
Trust is usually managed within the organizations themselves, either with an in-house marketing team or by external marketing agencies and freelancers.
Businesses selling a product or service, like Airbnb or the fair trade chocolate company mentioned in the examples above, use marketing to establish a credible reputation so that customers have faith in what they are buying.
Platforms like Facebook act as an intermediary. Marketers place trust in the systems, processes and operations at Facebook and expect that the metrics displayed about their ads are accurate.
Let’s take a minute to be skeptical...
Currently, there is no feasible way for a customer or user (or anybody outside of the centralized company) to actually ‘audit’ the information that is being shared.
Questions to ask ourselves:
- How does a user know whether a review on Airbnb is 100% precise?
Can a user know whether a review is false? No. It is the responsibility of the marketers at Airbnb to create a credible brand so that hosts and renters trust the system.
Can a customer actually know with absolute certainty whether chocolate is fair-trade or not?
Is it possible for a customer to track where the cacao beans were purchased from?
No. Marketers create stories and experiences (through words, images, videos, packaging) to ensure that customers trust that the chocolate they are buying is indeed ethical.
- How does a marketer audit the metrics that Facebook displays from ad campaigns?
Can a marketer audit the number of clicks and impressions to ensure no clicks were caused by bots?
No, they can’t. Marketers are required to trust that these metrics from Facebook are not inflated.
All three transactions above are based around trust. The bottom line?
Blockchain will impact marketing by changing how people trust businesses
Traditionally, the brands have controlled all information exposed to the public, but blockchain shifts power from the brand to individuals.
How? Blockchain allows for complete decentralization, automation and non-alterable record keeping, so information can be shared publicly. In a blockchain, information is no longer be confined to the walls of the business.
In fact, things can be set up so customers can actually view certain transactions for themselves -- and know that they are 100% accurate. Because records in a blockchain cannot be tampered with, marketers will no longer have to worry about convincing customers to ‘trust the business’.
Transactions within a blockchain network will inherently create this trust.
Impact #2: Eliminates middlemen
If you are a freelancer or work in an agency (like us!), your role as a marketer is essentially a middleman. Agencies and freelancers work to market our clients’ missions.
One of the benefits of blockchain we discussed in our intro guide was automation; blockchain leads to automatic verification of records, so the need for third party intermediaries and middlemen decreases (or is completely removed). As the dependency for middlemen is removed, this impacts us in two ways:
- First, as middlemen ourselves, marketing professionals need to consider what facets of our services are ‘facilitative’ in nature and be aware of potential shifts in the types of services we provide in the future due to blockchain’s impact on our industry.
Keeping up with trends and industry changes does come with the territory: marketers should always stay current on changes in technology, whether it’s blockchain, social trends, or new platforms.
- Advertising is a segment of marketing that is completely dependent on middlemen. The current advertising space is confusing and lacks complete transparency.
When a marketer runs an ad on Facebook or through Google, we rely on these intermediaries to help marketers spread the marketing message. Marketers rely on the metrics displayed back to us, because we currently have no other choice.
The bottom line?
Blockchain affects marketing by eliminating the need for advertising intermediaries.
Consultants and freelancers who specialize in this type of work should mindful because blockchain may allow in-house marketers and brands to advertise directly to customers through their websites, versus relying on advertisements.
In fact, “Michael Greene, former Forrester analyst claims that publishers who remove middlemen can increase CPM from $1 to $5” and Jeremy Epstein believes that future blockchain solutions will “reduce reporting time, improve reporting accuracy, reduce fraud, and reduce costs in the advertising supply chain.”
Impact #3: Authenticity becomes the norm
If customers suddenly have full transparency into a company’s operations, the role of marketers will shift. The days of boasting, exaggeration, false claims and sugar coating will be gone. Blockchain will ensure authentic marketing will become the norm.
Let’s imagine how blockchain will be applied to the three use cases mentioned earlier in this article.
Airbnb in a blockchain future
Airbnb would no longer manage their own platform of ratings and reviews. Airbnb, Amazon, and other platforms that rely on reviews (like eBay and Uber) would be collectively stored on a decentralized blockchain.
An Airbnb host would request access to reviews for an individual seeking to rent their home. They would access the individual’s digital identity on this blockchain, and review trust ratings from previous hosts. Hosts and users would have complete faith in the reviews as they would be stored on a blockchain, decentralized and not owned by a single entity. This would completely decreas the risk of false reviews.
The marketing team at Airbnb would no longer need to create campaigns and messages to convince the public that their system is trustworthy. Rather than marketing to ‘convince’, marketers could spend more time improving user-experience and developing new services, such as the Social Impact experiences that Airbnb launched recently.
Facebook ads in a blockchain future
Businesses would no longer need to run Facebook ads to reach their target market. Blockchain will effect marketing professionals by eliminating the advertising middleman that is Facebook and instead allow businesses to advertise directly on websites with complete transparency.
Businesses would easily be able to see who their ads have reached and whether the users clicking their ads are real or not, leading to huge cost savings since they would not end up paying for clicks generated by bots. In a blockchain future, business and marketing professionals would both have greater transparency -- which could lead to both advantages and disadvantages:
The advantage? Blockchain will allow marketing professionals who who run advertising campaigns would have better transparency as to whether the ads they create are working or not. This would enable marketers to make better decisions when it comes to modifying and running advertising campaigns.
The disadvantage? If businesses and clients would no longer need to rely on middlemen, blockchain could potentially impact all marketing freelancers, and marketing agencies. In this example, businesses would have greater transparency and wouldn’t rely on any third parties (Facebook or a marketing agency) to create and run ads in the complex ad network that exists at the present moment.
Eliminating marketers as the intermediary to run ads would save businesses a lot of money, and as Jeremy Epstein said, “as marketers, we sometimes take for granted that the attention of others comes without any cost to ourselves. Since others pay for attention, marketers have historically just done whatever they could to get it.”
Consumer products in a blockchain future
Blockchain transforms any business that purchases supplies, like a fair trade chocolate company. It’s unchangeable distributed ledger would allow conscious consumers to instantly verify whether a company is actually ‘walking the talk’. Each shipment of cacao beans purchased by the chocolate brand would be logged into the blockchain, and reliably tracked all the way through to manufacturing.
Customers, looking at the chocolate bar in a store, would be able to scan the QR code on the package and directly view the transaction that displays where the cacao bean came from. In fact, Walmart is already working on this type of transparency to improve its food supply chain.
Blockchain impacts the marketing professionals of this fair trade chocolate company, marketing to ‘convince’ customers would no longer be necessary because consumers would be able to see for themselves that the company’s ‘fair trade’ message is authentic.
The bottom line?
Blockchain shifts marketing from creating to documenting.
I believe the focus of marketing will shift from ‘creating the story’ to documenting the story. Marketers will have no choice but to finally follow the loud and proud advice of Gary Vaynerchuk: “document, don’t create.”
Marketers may not need to worry about using embellished buzzwords, exaggerated copy, or bells and whistles anymore because at the end of day, transparency will be king. Just as content marketing has become a normal segment of marketing, I believe ‘documentarian marketing’ will become commonplace.
Jeremy Epstein agrees and states that “marketers can tell the story of their product not simply as a storyteller, but as a documentarian.”
With blockchain, marketing professionals will need to get creative and learn how to turn documentation into an authentic, creative, and interesting artform.
Impact #4: More productivity
Time is money. Unfortunately, all marketers and creatives spend a large portion of their time on administrative tasks such as contract creation, billing, and payment chasing. Well, we saved the best for last -- the bottom line:
Blockchain will decrease administrative time and make us more productive.
Seriously. Remember the smart contracts we discussed above? With the onset of smart contracts, marketers (particularly freelancers) won’t need to deal with the hassle of invoicing and requesting payment from clients. When a new client is onboarded, a smart contract can be set up to allow for the automatic transfer of payment from the client’s bank account to the marketer’s bank account upon certain conditions.
For instance, payments could be automatically triggered upon project completion (e.g. when assets are delivered), when certain conditions are met (e.g. when website traffic hits a certain number), or on specific date (such as the beginning or end of the month).
With less time spent on administrative tasks such as tracking and requesting payment, blockchain will allow marketing professionals to gain back time and perhaps best of all, fees will be collected at a faster rate than ever before.
Kirill Shilov, co-founder of howtotoken.com, also believes that blockchain will impact marketing freelancers by providing a potential increase in project opportunities by accepting cryptocurrency and tokens as payment.
So now that you understand the 4 major ways that blockchain will impact the world marketing, what can you do to prepare?
Stay tuned. We're sharing tactical steps in our next article: Blockchain Disruption: How Marketing and Creative Professionals Can Prepare.
In the meantime, join the discussion over at our BLOCKCHAIN FOR CREATIVES AND MARKETERS group.
Before becoming the founder of marketing agency, Pivot Six, Alice earned her Canadian CPA, CA at KPMG. As a former finance professional turned marketing and business consultant, Alice hopes to be a bridge to help people without a finance background understand the basics of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and how they can use it to their benefit.