Neil O’Keefe is DMA’s SVP of Content & Marketing.

Neil O'Keefe of Data & Marketing Assocation (DMA)Eamon MacGuire of KPMG has described Blockchain as “the single source of truth based on the immutability of data.” As the Data & Marketing Association, working with companies across the marketing ecosystem, we see great promise in this statement and, by extension, blockchain. However, blockchain’s potential for marketing and advertising remains in the future and is fraught with challenges.

The Promise is Boundless

  1. Transparency & Accountability – Blockchain’s distributed ledger can bring transparency to what has been the black box of programmatic and digital display advertising. In theory, this has the ability to verify every digital interaction with an online ad, including the determination of a human vs. bot viewer and duration of view. Additionally, it can confirm display time and context, bringing more certainty to agreed ad purchases.
  2. Digital Identity – For the marketers who continue to pursue identity and attribution, blockchain holds the potential to develop a digital identity of the customer. Imagine a direct relationship with the customer that compensates them for engaging with an ad, app, or website. Marketers can craft truly personalized experiences, relevant to the customer’s interests and journeys.

  3. Improved CX and Engagement – By utilizing the data generated by the customer connection, companies can improve customer experience. This means a true value exchange can exist between brand and customer. In order to compensate for engagement, customer must share a certain minimum of data

Of course, if you search online, you will find many more than 3 challenges associated with blockchain. But for marketing applications, I believe the following are most significant.

  1. Blockchain is Too Slow – 7 transactions per second will not cut it for the programmatic display. The last thing we need are slow ads that will disrupt the mobile experience even further. Blockchain will need to speed up before it reaches the big leagues.

  2. Blockchain is Too Complicated – Most people, including blockchain “evangelists,” can’t explain how it works. That’s quite a hurdle before marketing platforms will connect with blockchain on a wide scale.
  3. Blockchain is Too Expensive – Added complexity and introduction of customers into the compensation mi will add costs to the advertising model.

In fact, DMA board member Cory Treffiletti (CMO of Voicera) recently wrote in MediaPost that blockchain’s “value doesn’t scale to real-time exchanges required in a media and advertising landscape.” Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, is an even more vocal opponent of blockchain, but even he concedes that blockchain “is a good technology. We actually use it. It will be useful in a lot of different things.”

DMA continues to investigate the methods such as blockchain to assist our members. “DMA leads initiatives that positively impact the data and marketing industry,” said Tom Benton, DMA’s CEO. “Given the current state of digital advertising, we have a responsibility to deliver to our members the tools and knowledge to succeed.”

All of the above were discussed at the recent Blockchain Opportunity Summit hosted by Morrison & Foerster. DMA member organizations such as IBM, Wipro, MetLife, and Deloitte were in attendance along with others to discuss the next steps in blockchain technology. What was evident was that many solutions and ideas abound. However, the ability to convene a coalition to set standards and protocols is currently missing. As trade associations such as DMA evaluate the potential, the role we play in connecting our members to solve problems will be a valuable addition to this initiative.

There is much more to come here…but the potential is that blockchain will deliver value the way the internet delivers information.