The discussion of who owns our personal data has morphed into alternative forms of currencies and the businesses, processes and systems that serve them. That’s where blockchain, the technology underlying bitcoin, Ethereum and other forms of virtual currencies come in with the potential to revolutionize how we operate as a society now.
With an understanding of privacy concerns and emerging reactions from the public that are taking shape in the form of oncoming GDPR regulations, what is blockchain and what does it have to do with anything in marketing? Great question!
If you ask Google, blockchain is defined as “a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.” Blockchain has the promise of taking out the banking middleman, reducing fees and giving greater control of transactions to each person. Some see blockchain as a partial response to strongholds of centralization and related privacy concerns.
Blockchain, Lost or Gained Marketing Opportunity?
As advertisers, we have to think critically about data privacy because we love and depend on consumer data, yet share privacy concerns as consumers. It’s a lot to consider. Expert on the matter Anders Hjorth, shares his insights on blockchain and GDPR in our latest 2018 Digital Predictions:
“I foresee a much more important role for the blockchain than its role in cryptocurrencies and ICOs. The blockchain is the new promise for the Internet in these bleak times where Net Neutrality has just been trumped in the US…The blockchain has the potential to power little Davids. An example is Blockstack wanting to overthrow the Goliaths like Google and Facebook and other masters of Cookieland by creating a parallel encrypted Internet where your data is on your own computer. In Europe, Net Neutrality remains and there is also a raising concern about Data Sovereignty. Hence, the GDPR… providing more transparency and responsible data behaviour. “
From privacy concerns to digital monopolies, there is a growing desire to cut out middlemen in transactions. Some marketing service providers already accept forms of cryptocurrency to their advantage. Champions of data privacy who already have bitcoin wallets may give buying preference to businesses who accept their preferred alternative mode of payment.
Cryptocurrency Exchange in Marketing
In the era of AI and Ethereum, seeing is no longer believing. Transactions happen digitally. Virtual currencies like bitcoin are opening new markets and consumers feel greater protection. Here are a few marketing companies taking advantage of blockchain and its promise to their customers.
NIMBUS is a new platform created for selling products and services using virtual currencies and blockchain. This platform is especially helpful for pre-sale marketing campaigns on everything from avocados to art.
Oyster Protocol is a service that allows “websites to silently generate traffic revenue as visitors perform proof of work for decentralized storage ledger,” that’s built on Ethereum and IOTA Tangle. It promises to be “the future of website monetization and distributed storage.”
Basic Attention Token is bravely taking on digital advertising in the blockchain environment. It creates publisher-advertiser-user exchanges on the Ethereum blockchain improving efficiency with tokens based on user attention.
Different areas of marketing tend to permeate all aspects of business growth and success. As our society embraces alternative forms of internet like blockstack and alternative forms of currencies, it’s natural that startups like those listed above will form to try and bridge the gap.
Can We Trust Blockchain?
Blockchain is “an exciting technology, especially when it comes to storing data,” says Remie Bolte, co-founder of Project Privacy. Remie warns against blockchain as a complete solution to privacy concerns for the following reasons:
- Because blockchain is decentralized, data that is part of transactions is stored with the entire pool of blockchain users
- Typically fragmentation over centralization is preferred when dealing with personal and sensitive information
- Data permanently lives on inside the blockchain environment, contrary to privacy principles like the right to be forgotten
- Sophisticated encryption standards today are likely to be surpassed in the future
“We cannot guarantee the security of any data you disclose online. …You accept …the risk of failure of hardware, software and Internet connections, the risk of malicious software introduction, and the risk that third parties may obtain unauthorized access to information stored within your Wallet …Blockchain has no control over any cryptocurrency network and will not be responsible for any harm occurring as a result …”
Blockchain and Blockstack aren’t perfect solutions to centralized banking or privacy concerns, but the larger implications of this shift is massive for our business culture worldwide. It is nice to see marketing platforms and startups bridging us from where we are today with our open internet and current advertising practices to what the future can bring. Marketers and advertisers have one job in all of this – listen to what people want and adapt accordingly.
If you’d like more insights and discussions on what marketers can expect to change this year, download our Digital Predictions ebook (or at least check out the expert prediction videos on the landing page!).
Feature Image: Unsplash/Andre Francois