Is blockchain technology about to disrupt content marketing?
If you’re not ahead, you’re behind.
We see this all the time in content marketing, as new digital technologies pave the way for alternate ways of thinking, doing and achieving. The rise of Google affected how content and SEO interact, then new web tools evolved to change how we produce content. And now?
Blockchain technology is a development making big waves in the digital ocean. So what is this system, and can blockchain be used in content marketing?
Firstly, what is blockchain?
Blockchain started its life as the digital ledger for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Essentially, each “block” was like a bank statement, recording transactions. When a block was completed, it moved into the “chain”, where it was permanently stored – to become accessible by anyone with an internet connection.
Its popularity has grown because it’s fast, cuts out the middleman (e.g. banks), and the data is impossible to delete or meddle with. What’s extremely cool about blockchain, though, is that more and more companies are deploying it to record data other than who owns a particular unit of currency.
Any digital file can be stored in a blockchain, which has even led to companies using it to store sensitive information such as votes. And, as we explore today, blockchain is growing more popular in marketing, too.
Watch the World Economic Forum’s video on blockchain to learn more.
Examples of blockchain being used
To explore a little more about how blockchain can be used outside of currency, let’s look at two examples:
- Brave Browser’s BAT
Software company Brave is using blockchain to revolutionise digital advertising. It is aiming to create a system that protects the identities of its users, while rewarding them for looking at advertisements. Advertisers are also rewarded for gaining their attention.
- What is Brave? Brave is an internet browser like Chrome or Edge, except with the unique focus on blocking ads and trackers. The company claims that when you use Brave to browse web pages, speeds are two to eight times faster because you aren’t loading advertisements or invisible tracking systems. This also saves money when using a mobile network (less to download).
Brave is in the process of developing the Basic Attention Token (BAT). This utility token (a digital unit of service a bit like store credit) is designed to be transferred between advertisers, publishers and viewers for rewards.
-How do BATs affect users? If users opt in, Brave anonymously monitors their usage, displays adverts relevant to their search history, and rewards them for their attention. Users can then use their BAT wallet to spend on premium products or content and donate to their favourite publishers. It is also expected that new ways of spending BATs will develop over time.
-How do BATs affect publishers and advertisers? BATs are also awarded to attention-grabbing publishers and advertisers. The tokens can be used to purchase premium services within the browser, such as acquiring ad slots. Again, it is expected that more uses will arise as the ecosystem evolves.
What we’re seeing here is a company pushing to decentralise internet-based advertising from Facebook and Google. Because this kind of blockchain system eliminates the need for any middleman, publishers can advertise directly to their audience without third-party intervention, and be rewarded for it. Plus, in an almost unheard-of development, users get rewarded for looking at ads too.
It really is a brave new world.
ClearPoll, while not directly linking blockchain to content marketing, is a great example of the system being used for something other than currency or rewards. We’ve included it in this list because it shows that you can be imaginative with how you utilise the technology, and find new ways to solve old problems.
- What is ClearPoll? Still in development, ClearPoll is a polling app that uses a blockchain system to record votes. When votes are cast by users, they are etched into the chain and – like cryptocurrencies and private data – can’t be tampered with or deleted. Additionally, anyone can access the results at any time, meaning all polls are both accurate and 100% transparent. What’s also cool, is that all topics on ClearPoll will be user-suggested. The only topics that go to the polls will be those that enough people voted for.
The facts about ClearPoll $POLL – DYOR but this is a great place to start. Don’t miss out, check out the dev dates!! #clearpoll #blockchain #tokensale #ico #cryptocurrency https://t.co/I7XBSaMo0S pic.twitter.com/curCL6SfY5
— ClearPoll (@voteclearpoll) November 13, 2017
In a recent whitepaper, ClearPoll highlights a perfect example of how the app could have been used in the past. Cast your mind back to the 2016 US elections, when the mainstream media was convinced Hillary Clinton would steal the victory. The polls all pointed to her being in the lead, but when the votes came through, she lost.
This was because the opinion polls were inaccurate. But what if polling agencies had instead used ClearPoll? There would have been a clear picture, nobody could claim that it was being tampered with, and more voters might have come out either in support or opposition of Trump, had they known he was close to winning.
-Can content marketers use ClearPoll?
Yes, they can. Corporates will be able to purchase POLL tokens (the system’s currency) in order to buy a premium subscription and access advanced user demographics and other metrics. The app can then be used for in-depth, accurate market research purposes.
Marketers will also be able to sponsor polls to gain insights to their business. Analytics come free with a sponsored poll.
Is blockchain being used explicitly for content marketing?
We’ve looked at advertising and research, but are people using blockchain for content marketing purposes? Not yet. But there are companies investing in similar areas.
The team behind Socialmedia.market is using blockchain to bring down the costs of influencer marketing.
Anyone who has tried using influencers to promote their brand will know that managing so many different tiny partnerships can be time consuming and expensive. With Socialmedia.market, influencers of all levels can quickly find and connect with brands in the name of monetising their content. Brands, meanwhile, are able to connect with and pay influencers, and have a hub with which to manage them.
- How does it use blockchain? Socialmedia.market is going to use a token-based economy like Brave and ClearPoll. Its tokens will be called “Social Media Tokens (SMT)”. Much like Brave’s BAT, SMTs are aimed to create a self-sustaining economy between users. SMTs can also be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies, and Socialmedia.market says that it will buy back tokens from users as well.
-Other influencer marketing platforms
You’ll also find numerous other influencer marketing blockchain platforms – its influence is really growing!
Mavin is another promising system. Brands can set up “campaigns” with Mavin, and then influencers whose profiles match their requirements are shown the campaigns and can choose to participate. They earn reward points for using hashtags, taking part in competitions, and mentioning brands, and these points can then be turned into MVN tokens (which in turn can be exchanged to other cryptocurrencies or sold for fiat currencies).
— mavin.network (@mavin_network) November 13, 2017
Indahash is trying to become the staple cryptocurrency of the global influencer marketing community. The company already works with big-name brands to connect them with relevant bloggers, social media champions and video-makers, but they’ve found money transfers take too long and require too much personal data. So to cut out banks and speed up payments they have invented Indahash Coin, a self-sufficient economy that will grow with Indahash’s business. Considering there are already 330,000 influencers registered with Indahash, the company is off to a good start.
Here’s a different way to look at blockchain tech being used: influencer marketing mixed with content marketing.
Refereum aims to connect players and influencers in the video game community straight with game developers, cutting out advertising agencies. The economy it hopes to create – using its own Refereum currency – is one where developers build the rewards into their games, which influencers can then earn simply by playing.
- Examples of Refereum in action: The Refereum whitepaper sets out some great examples. A Twitch streamer can earn rewards by playing with their subscribers on a game’s release day, or YouTube video-makers could review a game, then offer a unique URL to viewers to purchase the game – anyone who does would earn bonus Refereum. Finally, developers could implement an in-game system that rewards gamers for returning to their game.
So, is blockchain the future of content marketing?
Short answer: Maybe – though not right now.
Long answer: Blockchain for marketing is very much in its infancy. Although the platforms we’ve discussed today are exciting and unique, the entire industry is still developing. We don’t honestly know how it will go yet, and only have the successes of Bitcoin and Ethereum to guess whether or not all of these myriad small-scale token-based systems will succeed or not. For all we know, half of them will drop away to obscurity because of the sudden influx of choice that potential customers have.
But, importantly, these developments highlight that blockchain could be the future. A platform like Socialmedia.market could link us more closely with freelance content producers, consultants or influencers, speeding up the briefing and payment process. Refereum-like apps could enable an authentic, qualified audience to be paid for reading our content, or watching our videos. Social media interactions could be incentivised, or whitepaper downloads rewarded.
As we etch 2017 into the chain of life and embrace the new block that is 2018, blockchain isn’t our saviour just yet. But, given time, it could be.