Addressing the Bitcoin Hype and Implications for Marketers

Over the past few weeks, led by the meteoric rise in the price of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency world has made its way into the mainstream. If you want to put a comparison to this movement, think somewhere along 1994-95 of the dot com craze. Regardless of if you believe these price increases are a fraud, a bubble, or a systematic shift in how our economy operates, there’s one thing that’s for certain, cryptocurrencies are not going away any time soon.

The underlying technology to these currencies is the blockchain and its ability to facilitate the transfer of almost anything of value, without a middleman. By doing so, the parties involved will be privy to a more profitable, secure, and transparent interaction. Industries such as banking, healthcare, retail, communication and more are all ripe for disruption. In the advertising space, blockchain technology is likely to gain traction with regards to ad-serving.

Those who work or have worked in programmatic, know that data exchange is a messy process. Every time data changes hands, there’s a loss of value. As a result, publishers end up seeing their share of revenue decrease, and advertisers don’t get the full value of their ad spend. Additionally, transparency is generally not a word associated with ad serving. Blockchain technology will allow an advertiser to understand the exact impact and performance of their ad dollars.

A few crypto projects to keep an eye out for with regards to advertising, are the Basic Attention Token (BAT) and the MAD Network Token. Each attempts to improve ad serving in their own unique way. The BAT is designed to reward publishers and users for the attention that they give to advertising. It’s almost like as a user, you’re getting paid to look at ads. In return, users are able to use those tokens to reward publishers for premium content or additional services. To learn more about BAT, click here.

The MAD Network Token is a bit different. The process uses smart contracts to specify how ads should be executed and relies on the tokens (paid for in US dollars) to track ad spending throughout the supply chain. All third parties that are involved in the ad exchange are transparent to both buyers and sellers in this process, and the value received is supposed to greatly increase margins on both sides of the aisle. While this isn’t necessarily an advertisement for MAD, the token comes available next week, and as a marketing push, they’re currently reserving spots for 50 free tokens – who doesn’t like free money? Check it out here.

We’ve also seen an interesting rise in popularity of Cryptokitties over the past few weeks. What are Cryptokitties? Well, they’re digital cats that have gained perceived value based on how rare they are. Some are even selling for over six figures! The application was designed as a way to educate individuals on cryptocurrency through a game, a process we know to be called gamification. These Cryptokitties, aside from slowing down ethereum transaction speeds, are a foray into what digital ownership may look like in the future. While the name may sound funny, the underlying idea to these digital cats, is nothing but.

Implications

It’s still very early days in the cryptocurrency world. The implications that this technology could have long term are very exciting. While no one really knows how this is going to play out (Could you have predicted Facebook in 1994??) there will likely be some massive disruption occurring in the next 5 to 10 years.

For advertisers, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on this space, as disruption seems to happen quicker than usual in our world. Don’t get Bitcoin mixed up with the technology that it runs on, and don’t be so quick to call it a bubble. There are changes coming, and the companies that can successfully deploy a first mover advantage, may be in for some massive gains.

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