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CMOs around the world are excited about the potential for artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain to drive more efficient marketing spending. But it’s possible that there are use cases for blockchain that haven’t yet been imagined. At least that’s the view of most advertisers responding to Econsultancy’s Future of Marketing survey [download page].

Before proceeding, it’s worth quickly highlighting some notes about blockchain covered in the report, as follows:

“Blockchain is commonly referred to as a ‘distributed ledger’. ‘Ledger’ refers to a list of transactions while ‘distributed’ refers to the fact that anybody with a computer on the blockchain network can have a copy of the ledger and see a list of all the transactions that have happened over the network. Data put onto the blockchain can only be changed if all the network participants reach consensus. This is unlikely to happen as it could involve thousands of participants. Therefore, blockchain is hailed as secure, verifiable and transparent.”

The report, which explored the views of almost 200 advertisers (from a sample of close to 500 marketing industry stakeholders), found that a slight majority (54%) agree that they have an understanding of blockchain and its potential use cases.

But while many feel confident they understand the possibilities presented by blockchain, even more believe the technology’s full potential remains unknown.

Specifically, two-thirds (67%) agreed that blockchain will be used in ways not yet foreseen by marketers, with just 7% disagreeing. (The rest were unsure.)

How Might Blockchain Be Used?

So blockchain might have as-yet unexplored uses, but what are some that advertisers are thinking about?

While many are unsure, some agree that:

  • In 5 years, blockchain will be used by customers to decide what data to share with brands; and
  • In 5 years, blockchain will be used to verify consumer ID.

There’s also some support for the concept that blockchain has the potential to be adopted as the main tech ecosystem for digital advertising.

This article in the Harvard Business Review goes into more detail as to how blockchain can be used in marketing, but agrees that it could have a big impact on the ad-tech ecosystem, particularly by tackling rampant issues with fraud and also by helping prevent repeated ads.

For now, blockchain isn’t a huge priority for advertisers, though. Just 1 in 10 are using it, and more than 6 in 10 have no plans to use it in the next 2 years. It also falls on the bottom of the list of 17 key objectives for advertisers within the next 5 years…

Still, more than one-quarter are planning on using blockchain within the next 2 years, and if its potential is quickly realized (respondents are split on whether it will mirror traditional martech growth or not) it may see wide penetration much more quickly…

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