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Everyone in finance already knows all about blockchain, and while there is much debate on the extent to which this new technology will change the game long-term, there's no doubt that it's an important innovation to keep your eye on. But it's not just finance and currency that blockchain has the power to change: in addition, blockchain is disrupting the digital marketing space. And since digital marketing is where advertisers and companies now make the overwhelming majority of their money, this can have major repercussions for everyone involved: marketers and advertisers, companies, consumers—everyone. So it's not just something for small groups of finance workers, techies, and maybe some government sectors to care about—blockchain has the power to potentially revolutionize our technological world, affecting everyone in it.
Cutting Out the Middleman
When people talk about blockchain technology, they often refer to 'cutting out the middleman'. In the financial world, this refers to cutting out secure 3rd parties that process monetary transactions, and replacing the need for them with transparency that guarantees safe transactions. But blockchain is disrupting the digital marketing space, as well. Just as it is with monetary transactions, so it is with digital marketing. When it comes to current digital marketing practices, there are three major players: the marketer, who wants to advertise their product or service, the consumer or audience, who may be interested in that product or service, and of course, the middleman through which those ads are taken from marketer to distributer. But as we know, these middlemen are out for their own profits, and aren't really on the side of the marketer or the advertiser. As a result, many of them sell their audience's personal information to other parties.
Protecting Your Personal Information
So, cutting out the middleman can help protect your personal information. But how exactly does it do this? Well, blockchain technology allows all of your information to stay yours alone by connecting the consumer directly with the marketer, no third party required. This gives the consumer all of the power and say in what they see, and who they share information with. Instead of seeing ads based on the sites you visit and the things you search in your browser (that slow cooker was a gift, I don't want 130 Best Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes!), the consumer would be able to decide whether they were interested in a service or product before any information was sent.
It's not just the consumer that could benefit from blockchain based digital marketing. The marketer also has a lot to gain, by ensuring that the information they receive is accurate and relevant, not sold to them by self-interested 3rd parties. This makes them much more able to connect with their target audience, which helps everyone: the marketer, by not wasting time with uninterested parties as well as connecting them with people who are genuinely interested in the product or service, so the people viewing their ads are genuine potential buyers or clients. And the audience, or consumer, benefits in two ways: first, their ad experience is both in their control and more accurately tailored to their interests. And second, consumers don't get stuck with ads they're not interested in or that aren't relevant to them, saving everyone a lot of wasted time. It's one of the many ways blockchain is already succeeding.
BAT and BRAVE
So I've said a lot of things about how blockchain is disrupting the digital marketing space, and how that can benefit both marketers and audiences. But how exactly does this work? Well, the innovative technology that could revolutionize the way advertisement works is called Basic Attention Token (BAT). It's more or less what it sounds like: a system of exchanging tokens for consumer "attention." BAT is the key to the new BRAVE browser, a blockchain based internet browser that operates by measuring user attention—not just number of clicks or views. Users are rewarded with BATs for this attention, which can be used for products or even exchanged for other currency. Advertisers pay in with BATs, and receive in exchange more accurate target audiences. This way, everybody wins: the consumer is rewarded with BATs in exchange for attention, and the marketer is rewarded for BATs with accurate targeting, so their revenue increases. And finally, the stored "attention" data is sent to publishers—but only this data. All of the users' personal information is stored locally, and stays on the users' device. All of this can happen without any of that information trading hands, as the process of targeting audiences for ads happens locally as well, using information from the users' device to match marketers and target audiences without that information needing to go anywhere at all.
Transparency is the word of everyone's lips when we talk about blockchain. Essentially, blockchain provides built-in security without a central authority. This makes blockchain technology nearly tamper-proof, as any changes in data can be easily discovered, located, and traced back to the source. It's one of the ways blockchain is revolutionizing cybersecurity. And this transparency has other beneficial effects for everyone involved: in marketing, this transparency puts all of the power in the hands of the consumer. Because blockchain is disrupting the digital marketing space, consumers can know everything they need to about marketers and their claims. But that benefits the marketer as well, as the audiences they reach will be interested audiences.
With blockchain's distributed ledger system, consumers have access to all of the information they need. This prevents consumers from getting duped by fake ads or scams, or even just false advertising, as the consumer can track the product's exact path. It's one of the ways blockchain revolutionizes retail marketing as well. Current digital marketing is, unfortunately, highly susceptible to alterations, and completely opaque to the consumer. This diminishes the public's trust in advertising, as many of us assume many, if not most, ads are scams or even viruses. But blockchain is disrupting the digital marketing space, enabling the consumer to take charge of their ad experience and renew trust between consumers and real companies.