The world of digital advertising continues to change around us. As marketers look for ways to get their ads in front of their target audience and increase conversions, consumers are demanding more effort be made to secure their data and privacy.
By using everything from ad blockers to stop unwanted banner ads from following them across the internet every time they express interest in something to demanding more transparency about the type of data being collected while they’re browsing, consumers are trying to take back control of their online experience.
Regarding how brands use their data for marketing and advertising, according to recent data from Merkle (registration required), while many believe there are benefits, 44% of consumers believe that some ads can be invasive, and 23% are unwilling to share their personal information no matter the benefit.
So, where do advertisers and consumers go from here? Some think the answer may lie in blockchain technology.
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How Advertisers Can Benefit From Blockchain
Blockchain is at its core a distributed digital ledger technology that promotes decentralization and provides security and transparency. Once a digital record is placed on the blockchain, it is immutable, meaning that those with access can view the transactions but can’t alter them.
Since a blockchain stores information and records transactions as they happen in real-time, advertisers can leverage it to keep track of ad spend. Ultimately, this can provide a level of transparency that current methods can’t replicate.
“If the industry were to pivot and leverage blockchain technology, it would enable more seamless transparency in who is purchasing inventory, who is bidding on it, when, and at what price, at the speed of which media is purchased and sold,” says Paul Roberts, CEO, and Founder of New York, NY-based, Kubient.
But that transparency doesn’t only help determine who is purchasing what, it also helps alleviate some of the challenges associated with forgery. According to Flynn Zaiger, CEO of New Orleans, LA-based, Online Optimism, “there will no longer be such a thing as forging impressions, or engagements, since user metrics on the blockchain will have been confirmed.”
Transparency isn’t the only benefit, however. As Roberts explained, speed is critical in the advertising industry as ads are bought and sold quite quickly. This makes it complicated to track inventory and ensure high-quality inventory. Fortunately, blockchain technology can keep up with the pace.
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Potential Use Cases in Digital Advertising
We’ve covered the benefits of blockchain technology and how advertisers can leverage the ledger’s transparency, speed, and security. But some specific use cases can be applied.
Tracking Digital Marketing Campaigns
Companies that choose to leverage blockchain technology may find themselves at the forefront of innovation. “Blockchain technology provides the next step toward better tracking of digital campaigns,” added Zaiger. Eventually, this could lead to campaigns being tracked from impression to conversion, even as we begin to move away from cookies, unlike current tracking methods, which Zaiger explains, “rely on platforms proprietary technology, and a black box of data that we can’t see within.”
Mike Dragan, COO of Austin, TX-based, Oveit, provided other potential use cases that might not seem immediately apparent.
Solving Privacy Issues
The internet service providers (ISPs) and web browsers many of us use today have access to lots of data, from browsing history to bank account information. However, as Dragan points out, “blockchain’s verified signatures can assist digital marketers in keeping their clients’ data on their own servers rather than on servers administered by third-party applications.” This can help users to maintain their anonymity and improve privacy while on the internet.
One of the hallmarks of blockchain technology is tokenization, where assets are converted into a token on the blockchain. As Dragan explains, ads can be challenging for both users and advertisers. For advertisers, ads can be costly and difficult to control, while many users may find them intrusive. With blockchain, “users can choose which advertising they want to see and are rewarded in tokens for doing so in this type of browser.” An example of a blockchain-based browser is the Brave browser, which blocks ads and web trackers by default. Users can also opt to receive Brave Rewards by choosing the ads they want to see.
Another challenge in the advertising space is the ad clicks made by bots can end up costing advertisers a lot of money. Given the price of ads when targeting competitive keywords, advertisers want to avoid wasting any of their budgets. “Click-fraud can be prevented by using blockchain-based decentralized servers to monitor activity on digital adverts,” explained Dragan.
Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize online advertising. The transparency it offers can provide greater accountability for advertisers, publishers, brands, and consumers alike and lead to other potential use cases that benefit the industry for years to come.