Technology is making data-driven marketing more transparent and accountable, says Ihab El Yaman, Co-Founder and CEO of MEmob+.
With over 20 talks at this year’s Web Summit in Lisbon, all of them packed, there can be no doubt that blockchain is one technology that is driving major excitement. It’s hardly surprising when it is contrasted with the debates and controversies about consumer data and privacy. The battle of the tech giants, against the backdrop of GDPR-inspired legislation, looks like a remake of King Kong vs Godzilla for supremacy over digital IDs. Blockchain has the capacity to sort this out for good.
The digital advertising chain has become increasingly complex, involving a bewildering array of technologies, intermediaries, and therefore transactions. The lack of transparency and accountability to ascertain how their ad dollars have been spent has become a major pain point for brands and advertisers. Ensuring that the media that was purchased was actually delivered as intended certainly isn’t as simple as it should be. That’s even before we compute ad fraud, another major problem.
That’s where, for most, blockchain comes in, making data-driven marketing more transparent. But it can go further, validating and analyzing every consumer’s journey through verified ad delivery, confirming that a real person saw the ad as per the specifics of a media contract. As a collection of cryptographic records, aka blocks, joined together without the need for third-party authentication, blockchain is ideally suited for this. It records and verifies all in near real time.
Blockchain technology is developing quickly across several industries, particularly banking and finance. Applications in marketing have so far been limited but the benefits the technology brings will help the industry address many of its issues, notably in data transparency and effectiveness measurement.
Keyword tracking is challenging, with search engine algorithms changing frequently or the difficulties in detecting keywords on various devices. Blockchain gives marketers precise keyword statistics, with a tracker picking up keyword positions throughout devices, anywhere and within seconds. This will translate into more reliable data-driven strategies.
Keeping track of where ads are being placed, blockchain can make data-driven marketing more transparent by validating and analyzing every consumer’s journey through verified ad delivery. This will confirm that a real person saw each ad impression as per the requirement of a media contract.
The key to avoiding ad fraud from bots is to ensure that real people are engaging with ads. Smart contracts, or self-executing agreements, can be pre-encoded with guidelines for the evaluation of impressions, ensuring they meet a common standard. With these, advertisers only pay for genuine impressions that were served and viewed/engaged with by humans.
By accurately monitoring ad engagement, blockchain provides a precise digital attribution. It also enforces frequency capping, preventing the same ad from being over-served to anyone. A smart contract on blockchain offers a level of tracking and transparency that is currently not available to brands.
Consumers’ lack of trust about how it will be used and by whom often stops them from sharing more data. Blockchain’s ledger-based transparency can help build that trust, especially if the value exchange between companies and consumers is more balanced. The advent of blockchain technology offers tremendous potential to rebalance the relationship as it gives consumers a transparent view of how their data has been used by advertisers. People will also get more control over how their data should be used and by whom.
As the road to this vast improvement on the current reality isn’t without hurdles or stumbling blocks, like the speed of transactions in seconds rather than milliseconds, the broad adoption of the technology may take a little more time. In the meantime, projects will get us closer and MEmob+ has a few of its own, around the application of federated data in marketing in MENA and beyond. The benefits will certainly see the technology prevail in the end, but the biggest rewards await those who jump on board early.
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