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Will Blockchain Play a Role in Marketing in 2020? – MarTech Advisor

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The number of blockchain marketing companies grew by a staggering 13 times in the last 18 months. Is this positive streak going to continue in 2020? We believe the answer is a resounding YES – here are five startups that prove why.

For a while, the blockchain in marketing segment was perceived as mostly hype – but now, as we approach the end of 2019, there are clear signs of this technology going mainstream.

Just last month, five large brands signed up for a blockchain pilot that would improve transparency in digital advertising. These include the likes of McDonald’s, Unilever, Nestle, Virgin Media, and O2, along with their advertising partners. The initiative will delve into the digital advertising supply chain to unlock valuable data on fraud, inefficiency, and trust issues.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Apart from fraud detection in programmatic ads, there are several applications of blockchain in marketing, which could transform how brands operate in 2020. We surveyed the state of blockchain marketing in 2019 (so far) to find out exactly where the industry stands, future directions, and how you could gain from this technology in the new year.

Learn More: How Blockchain Could Make AdTech More Honest

5 Exciting Blockchain Marketing Startups and What They Tell Us

Blockchain is a foundational technology, geared to disrupt the marketing landscape, just like the internet did 30 years back, or like social media has done in the last decade. The underlying distributed ledger technology has massive potential at different touchpoints of the marketing value chain.

From smart contracts between brands and their agencies to micro-payments incentivizing customer interactions, blockchain has the potential to revolutionize marketing as we know it.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that the number of blockchain marketing companies shot up between 2018 and 2019. From 88 startups, we are now looking at an incredible 219 companies that give you the opportunity to leverage blockchain in your marketing campaigns – that’s is 13 times the growth in just 18 months!

So what are the areas where this technology is making a difference? We looked at five promising startups to explore this further.

1. A brand new way to share rewards

Let’s start with the most obvious application of blockchain in marketing. Distributed ledger technology can automate payments at any scale, making it possible for brands to send out micro-amounts to its customers.

This has massive implications for your rewards program. Instead of physical gift cards or online wallets that have limited redemption possibilities, you can transfer the amount right into the customer’s bank account. And you don’t have to wait for customers to cross a threshold of actions or transactions – any interaction with your brand, no matter how small, could have a monetary incentive.

Payments and rewards startup, Radpay, hopes to take this technology mainstream in 2020. It recently completed a $1.2 million seed funding round and claims a variety of applications on blockchain in marketing, including borderless business, cart abandonment reduction, and revenue generation.

2. An optimized advertising value chain
 

Adtech is one of the focus areas for blockchain in marketing. Given the many micro-transactions that go into managing digital ads, this is a prime candidate for moving to a distributed ledger that is transparent, secure, and accountable.

For this reason, blockchain-led adtech is poised to be one of the first areas to get buy-in from the world’s leading brands. Singapore-based Aqilliz is already pioneering this approach, with three unique products that apply blockchain in marketing and digital advertising. Proton is an administrative layer that brings transparency to ad supply chains, Neutron is the company’s solution to identity management for various stakeholders, and Electron ensures that advertisers receive the maximum value from their digital investments.

Learn More: What the Ad Industry Gets Wrong About Blockchain

3. Blockchain-verified data for consumer intelligence

Blockchain has the ability to gather, check, store, and automatically update vast databases, with little intervention from human executives. This could transform how you approach consumer insights. With data-driven marketing positioned as a key priority for brands, blockchain is the perfect underlying platform to generate insights.

Affle (another Singapore startup) is turning this concept into an executable reality. Affle is a mobile marketing platform that leverages blockchain data for in-app ads, consumer-targeted advertising, and fraud detection. In other words, it is a next-gen CDP.

The company has consolidated nearly 280 million data points between Q2 and Q3 of 2019 – and we expect this momentum to continue all across the new year.

4. Custom audience segments for targeted content delivery
 

This is another application of blockchain in marketing that involves data. But instead of using data for automated insight generation, you can also link your content with a hyper-personalized segment of one for effective targeting. One startup making impressive strides in this area is Audigent – a blockchain-based DMP.

Audigent claims to be a “first-of-its-kind data agency” that has access to exclusive content consuming audiences. It operates in the entertainment, sports, and lifestyle domain, conveying marketing content to active users, eliminating fraud, and preventing duplication of viewers. Unlike Affle, which is a  customer data platform (CDP), Audigent is a data management platform (DMP).

Following in the heels of the entertainment, sports, lifestyle industry, we expect several other domain-specific DMPs on blockchain to become available in 2020.

5. Serverless architecture for better-performing e-commerce
 

E-commerce websites and applications deal with thousands of transactions every day. Serverless architecture is a better option than traditional cloud hosting, as it allows stores to scale up or down as per customer demand. This is one of the few technical applications of blockchain in marketing – directly, brands can gain from always-on availability with zero performance gaps. And indirectly, going serverless will allow you to host on-demand campaigns like private sales, limited-time discounts, etc.

Bluzelle makes it easier for brands to embrace serverless architecture by providing a ready-to-use database, scalable to hundreds of locations in minutes. This will improve mobile e-commerce experiences, in addition to its web-based applications.

Learn More: The Future of Blockchain In the Light of Facebook Libra Developments

Is the World Ready for Blockchain in Marketing?

That, only time will tell. Despite serious interest from big brands and a lot of activity among startups, blockchain is yet to become a marketing staple. As Forrester mentioned, “distributed ledger technology will pave the path to transparency, slowly,” slowly being the operative word.

But while the blockchain in marketing space gathers momentum, there is no doubt that brands making early moves will have a definitive advantage. We recommend that you keep your eye on the landscape, identify potential use cases at your company, and start piloting in a small-scale format, ready to evolve in the new year.

Where do you stand on the maturity curve for blockchain in marketing? Tell us all about your experience on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!

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