Blockchain Explained: What Marketers Need to Know Now

Because digital marketing is still relatively new as an advertising medium, brands have been experimenting with the best ways to reach their audiences through what amounts to trial and error (sophisticated as it is). Social media, too, is still quite new, and as social platforms change (Facebook’s new algorithm, for example) marketers must adjust. Intrusive ads on web pages and social feeds are a common consumer complaint, and yet research shows that many consumers actually want to learn about new products and services online and on social; they just want ads that will interest them. In fact, Adweek writes that “nearly 80 percent of American ad-block users surveyed said they would be willing to view at least some ad formats,” meaning there is real potential for brands to reach audiences who are currently opting out of as much online advertising as possible.

Imagine if, rather than trying to work around ad blocking software and crunching engagement numbers for your digital ad campaigns you could instead present your content to consumers who specifically asked for it. A few exciting fledgling tech businesses promise to make this a reality and cryptocurrency is at the core. These companies, writes Adweek, “are exploring how blockchain—the encrypted transaction ledger that powers virtual currencies like bitcoin and ethereum—can be used to reward brand interactions, let web surfers sell their data to advertisers or otherwise empower consumers to play a more active role in the digital ads ecosystem.” The goal, it seems, is to change how both consumers and companies value attention online.

Research shows that many consumers actually want to learn about new products and services online and on social; they just want ads that will interest them.

 

But while companies creating technologies to reward online consumers for their attention aren’t mainstream enough to offer marketers real value yet, what they represent must be reinforced. Namely, as digital marketers seek to put ads in front of consumers on social, marketers must above all keep consumer trust. We’ll explain:

Consumers are Afraid of Unharnessed Data Acquisition

Brands seek information about their existing and potential customers to more accurately present audiences with relevant products and services. While consumers may be more receptive to targeted ads, they are often quite wary of giving brands unfettered access to everything about who they are and what they do online. When news broke earlier this year that a research company bought and sold Facebook users’ data without users’ knowledge, people were most concerned that their personal details had been gathered and stored (and used to sell them things or influence their decisions) without their permission.

When social media users don’t fully understand how their data is being acquired and used, they can easily expect the worst. Lee Rainie, director of Internet and technology research at Pew Research Center, recently told NPR that most Americans don’t know what data is being collected online, what’s being done with it, or who’s protecting their private information and all of it scares consumers a lot.

“To me, the problem is surveillance capitalism,” Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich told Adweek. “Advertising is still attractive if it doesn’t involve treating the user as a farm animal to be sheared.” Furthermore, when consumer trust is low, consumers are more likely to use ad-blocking software, meaning that brands really do need to find a way to gather data and deliver ads in a way that consumers feel comfortable with.

“Advertising is still attractive if it doesn’t involve treating the user as a farm animal to be sheared.” — @BrendanEich

 

What Consumers Are Looking for in Online Marketing

The state of current events being what they are, trust has become incredible currency for brands. At Spredfast, we’ve talked a lot about how brands can build trust with their audiences, including being authentic, transparent, and operating with empathy. We believe the same values and approach can work with online data collection and ad targeting, too.

Again, remember the statistic from our introduction: Adweek writes that about 80 percent of people who use ad-blocking software said that they would actually like to see more personalized ads from brands. Recent polls show that 91% of Americans feel that they do not have control over data, writes NPR. Though people care a lot about their privacy, most are actually willing to be transactional about it, adds NPR: "I'm going to give up a little bit of personal information — what am I going to get in return?"

How Marketers Can Bridge the Gap

The solution, then, is for brands to be more transparent with their data collection and honest about how they’re using it. And, brands can be more honest about themselves, too. We’ve explored how candid content marketing can make your brand relevant. If you’re real, pull your audience into your advertising, and work with influencers who can elevate your brand, your ads are less likely to fall on deaf ears.

The solution, then, is for brands to be more transparent with their data collection and honest about how they’re using it.

 

Our platform can help your brand sort through the mountains of data social media users provide (details from user bios, post hashtags, and more) to make sure you’re targeting the right groups of people—something that will make your audience happy and, done right, boost your brand’s bottom line, too.

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Jaime Netzer is Spredfast's Senior Content Marketing Manager, leading content operations. A Lawrence, Kansas native, she traded seasons for breakfast tacos seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. Also a fiction writer and journalist, Jaime tweets semi-regularly and reads constantly.