Blockchain will affect the practice of marketing and the media industry in ways not yet entirely obvious but is it over-hyped?
No. It will be both inevitable and transformative.
Blockchain has been made possible with the convergence of scaled audiences, connectivity and computation power and provides a new data structure enabling what is known as crypto economic protocols. Blockchain is technology which decentralises the way we do business. Blockchain can create new network designs and supply chains and reduce the friction from many processes.
What this means for media and marketing is the way in which content is distributed and indeed the ownership, management and use of personal information and therefore the ability for marketers to reach consumers as they have done previously will be up-ended. Existing distribution models for both editorial and advertising content will be impacted by disintermediation and many AdTech and MarTech businesses will be under threat.
Plain and simple; if you're a media middle-man and you've read anything about Blockchain, you're likely to be a little nervous or amidst a period of heavy innovation.
We have reached a time right now where we're questioning how the tech giants ended up with too much power. Blockchain will be their likely usurper and from this, peer-to-peer for everything will become (the most likely) reality. How we never thought of this rather than allowing the rise of large networked empires will amuse future generations.
Blockchain is less about how the technology works itself and more about how it will be utilised and what the implications or impacts are.
As Jeremy Epstein from Never Stop Marketing discusses on the EchoJunction* podcast, with Blockchain we 'now have technology which allows for the transfer of items of value as opposed to simply information (like the internet delivered) without the need for third party intermediaries which add time and risk'. That is, we are seeing the distinction between the internet of 'Information' and the Internet of 'Value'.
Most significantly, it allows consensus about the state and ownership of assets at particular times and has strong security guarantees to ensure that 'history' cannot be altered by bad actors. This means this innovation enables or liberates all types of value (including content) as the owners and recipients are protected through verification.
According to Singtel's APAC Associate Director for Financial Services Industry Innovation, Cindy Nicholson, 2018 will be the breakthrough year for Blockchain and the technology will mature by 2025^.
This is what we will start to see:
The most significant change will be in the space where consumers themselves make money from their own data...but more on that later.
Waiting to see how it plays out is likely to see players 'left out' or 'left behind'. Education, preparedness and early experimentation (or partnerships) is key.
Update (April 10, 2018): Found this explainer on Blockchain which might be useful - A Beginner's Guide to Blockchain - Steve Sammartino
* The EchoJunction Podcast with Adam Fraser; Jeremy Epstein talks Blockchain
^ AdNews; In Depth - Can blockchain revolutionise how media is traded? and Blockchain Summit 2017
Here's another acronym to add to your marketing bible.
CDPs or "Customer Data Platforms's focus on 1st-party data and known identities and an ability to connect with common marketing systems for input and output. It facilitates data collection, unification around a persistent ID, flexible storage and easy access from outside. Caution: solving cross-device requires something that CDPs do not have (yet)."
A CDP could be visualised like this as suggested by Martin Kihn:
Gartner's, Martin Kihn's observations:
1. CDP is not a system of record – it's a system of innovation
2. Failures won't be caused by the tech – they'll be caused by you
3. You probably don't know how messy your data is now
4. You will overestimate your team’s technical skill
5. You want short-term results but use long-term evaluation metrics
The temptation will be to think the CDP replaces the DMP (Data Management Platform), but "The DMP negotiates...programmatic advertising, while the CDP – by definition – is grounded in individuals known by name, email, customer number or another personal ID." The DMP operates on massive audiences; the CDP, on a manageable number of individuals. They do different things but are complementary.
Here's a great summary from Martin Kihn in AdExchanger
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