So a new terminology is entering into marketing parlance – Blockchain. Judging by the rising crescendo about it in the trade press, it sounds like we all better understand what it is or appear to be uncool. But do you eat it, drink it, wear it or log-on to it? Does the term have any bearing on our work lives?

  • Essentially Blockchain technology is a digital ledger that enables organisations to record data in a decentralised, completely verifiable and highly secure manner.
  • Once data is encrypted, anything entered into the Blockchain can only be changed if all the stakeholders empowered to amend the data have reached a consensus.
  • Moreover, these changes are recorded and ‘immutable’, meaning there can only be one version of the truth. Thus stakeholders cannot amend data to suit their own particular versions of the truth.
  • Since the data is decentralised and not stored by a single party, it means security breaches can be detected before they become large-scale incidents. It’s the opposite approach to where we are currently with a focus on large centralised databases stored within Cloud-based or organisation’s own systems.
  • From a marketer’s point of view, Blockchain technology could help bring to an end the lack of transparency inherent in the digital media environment. Online advertising could become completely verifiable with a clear trail showing which sites advertising appears on, what systems it has passed through, and transparent validation of the number of clicks generated.
  • With GDPR data regulation coming into force next year, Blockchain may help relieve some of the new requirements for consent from consumers for those marketers involved in mass-personalised CRM. Blockchain’s decentralised structures may provide a way to process personal data in an anonymised fashion.

Blockchain technology is the new shiny object that seems to be entering our professional consciousness. However it’s only in its infancy and for it to really work for marketers, two key things need to happen. Technically all the data stakeholders within the marketing supply chain need to sign up and undertake to work in the same way; and perhaps most importantly, its benefits to consumers have to be articulated correctly. None of this will happen overnight but if both these criteria can be achieved, Blockchain can provide the opportunity for brands, retailers and services to enhance or regain trust with their customers.

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Posted by Lawrence Janes

My expertise has come from working with some of the world’s leading retailers and brand owners. These include the likes of Carrefour, Kroger, Tesco & Walgreens; Danone, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Pepsico, RB & Unilever.

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