A single bitcoin coin stacked on a pile of pennies

The Huge Potential of Blockchain

12/19/2017

If I said the word blockchain to you, would you know what I mean? No? Good, not just me then.

For those of you who don’t know, a blockchain is a shared, unalterable digital ledger that allows organisations to track and record data (transactions) in a highly secure and accountable way. It’s not centralised, nor is it owned by any one party – it is democratised.

Privacy and accuracy are becoming ever more important factors in all digital transactions, and if you’re a marketer selling goods or services online, then you’ll increasingly need to find ways to prove to your customers that you’re a safe bet to purchase with.

 

Early adopters of blockchain

Everledger, a global technology start-up, was one of the first to embrace blockchain technology, tracking diamonds through the supply chain in a bid to end blood diamonds and incentivise consumers to purchase responsibly sourced stones. This opened up a huge opportunity for marketers: the ability to verify the identities of the sellers as well as the authenticity of the diamonds can inform future cause-related marketing campaigns and product messaging.

And the same could be said for the food industry. Using blockchain technology, companies have the potential to track back to the source and offer conscious consumers the transparency they require. So for example, in food labelling, brands can use blockchain technology to verify that a fish was caught in safe waters, reassuring consumers why they are paying a premium. According to a study from Neilson, 66% of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Blockchain can enable this.

Earlier this year, Walmart and IBM teamed up on blockchain technology to strengthen consumer confidence in the food system. One verification project they worked on was to digitally track the movement of Chinese pork in a supply chain through blockchain technology. The idea was to boost consumer confidence in Walmart, by proving it could trace the pork from producer to processor to store, and finally to the customer. This way, blockchain technology has the ability to help prevent disaster scenarios such as the fatal, nationwide outbreak of E. coli. In China, the government has revised its food safety regulations in the hopes of avoiding any such fatalities, creating a law that calls for better record-keeping, more supervision, and stricter health guidelines.

 

From product to content platforms

However, it’s not just the tracking of products that blockchain technology can impact, but also that of content platforms. Blockchain has the ability to detect and weed out any fake or untrue information – and for companies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, this will be an invaluable tool in the era of fake news.

Increasingly, we are seeing new companies emerge which aim to challenge behemoth content platforms. PUBLIQ, a non-for profit organisation uses a blockchain-based platform that rewards authors in PBQ (tokens that can be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies) for good quality writing that has received numerous clicks, shares and likes. Those that contribute valuable content, profit – and articles that are flagged by others for misleading or inappropriate subject matter receive a poor score that everyone can see, putting control back into the hands of consumers. In the fight against the fake news era, this means publishers such as Facebook – which has no way of controlling authored content without resorting to censorship or entrusting community monitors – could be in for some difficult times ahead.

 

Marketers need to act quickly

Blockchain is the new kid on the block. It’s going to transform the way companies do business by installing trust and transparency between the product/service and consumer, which is so important in a world where consumers are more clued-up and inquisitive than ever before.

Therefore, marketers should embrace blockchain now whilst it’s still in its infancy to remain one step ahead of others and come up with new ideas to take to the market.