In the massive world of online advertising, blockchain will be a force to reckon with. Unlike with some blockchain products such as cryptocurrency, advertising can employ blockchain in a plethora of unique ways. The applications of this technology in advertising will help ad creatives target audiences better, share data, make users safer and more private, and democratize who controls the data that the industry relies on.
A New Direction for Advertising
One of the most notable features of blockchain as a finance application is anonymity. While this is a product of blockchain’s origins in bitcoin, for advertising, anonymity is sometimes counter-productive. Blockchain solutions for advertising will instead make use of the robust accountability that the technology provides, wiping the slate clean for all participants.
Blockchains built since the original (bitcoin) have expanded upon the importance of such transparency, and many of the most influential chains will find their killer apps in the advertising world. Companies like Papyrus exemplify this trend, with platforms that make it easy for users to know exactly who is paying to advertise to them, and where their data is coming from. With Papyrus, these users can even decide not to share any of their browsing habits or other usage data, though if they do, advertisers can pay them for it directly.
From the user side, this is preferable to the excess of ceaseless, inaccurate ads that bombard us daily. Advertisers might be put off at first, but will quickly realize that the system works in their favor as well.
This type of schema is a far cry from the current way of doing things, which sees users voluntarily surrender their most personal information with little reward. These are the “terms and conditions” that most people skip over when setting up new applications. With new, blockchain-based platforms like Papyrus and MetaX, all those with a stake in advertising will share resources, see the entire flow of information in the same place, and have an even playing field that allows for more efficient competition.
Another venture, Bitcomo – a blockchain-driven lead generation platform – is creating a smart contract-based advertising model (pre-sale ICO kicks off on September 18) in which payment is due once results been delivered or after generating a smart contract-triggered sale. Bitcomo offers a solution to the traditional advertising model in which publishers are at the mercy of advertisers who are not always able to pay the entire commission as a protection against leads that were not approved.
Similarly, advertisers cannot be certain they are getting their money's worth and are often forced to blacklist publishers who may be conducting fraudulent activities. (See also: Investing in Cryptocurrencies: What to Keep In Mind.)
Kanstruktor over at Steemit explains: "Decentralized network between advertisers and publishers through caching, and logging of clicks and leads, key statistics, personalized nodes in the blockchain operator MetaHash (fork of Ethereum – ERC20). It is a basic principle of protection against fraud and concealment of data on actual transactions from advertisers, or making unrealistic target bots in the traffic of publishers instead of real users."
Blockchain’s Advertising Chops
For online advertising, data is precious. It reveals patterns in one’s shopping and search history, comprises social media posts and leaves priceless clues behind. Blockchain distributes this data to the entire network, whereas it was once kept on secure company servers and put up for sale to bidders with a relevant interest.
Apart from functionality that gives users more control, and puts the value of their data exclusively in their hands, this decentralized system benefits ad creators as well. They will have access to immense shared pools of relevant data, already vetted by other participants and proven with the chain, making ad targeting much more accurate and much less expensive. Blockchain’s irrefutable, ledger-like system is a perfect tool in the hands of ad companies whose bread and butter are key performance indicators like clicks and likes.
Instead of paying upfront for expensive ad space targeting fishermen, for instance, the same fishing gear company can use a blockchain advertising company to target those who have expressly stated (with their data-sharing preferences) that they are interested in such gear. The game will no longer be based on flighty browsing habits, but on hard data. Moreover, smart contract ad buying solutions make it possible for companies to buy conditional space, which will only show an ad should the target fulfill certain parameters.
Blockchain’s Future in Advertising
Online advertising companies are just now beginning to develop real use cases for blockchain in their daily activities, and those who get ahead of the curve sooner will benefit greatly. Blockchain is the ultimate democratization tool, and while those who currently protect the status quo are right to be afraid, at some point everyone will realize that an open system creates as many opportunities as it takes away.
The future is fast in coming, and instead of predicting it, the fast movers are already making it happen.