Most of us find digital advertising irritating. When online ads first came to platforms like Facebook, it was something of a novelty. For the first time, we were being shown products and services that were actually relevant to us, based on our likes and preferences – and data. That four-letter word has become a precious commodity. Because valuable data is, in fact, worth its weight in gold.
But as with anything in our rapidly evolving lives marked by limited attention spans, we got bored pretty quickly. And Facebook responded by changing its algorithm to prioritize content from family and friends over corporations. Awesome for users (until they found out their data was being leaked anyway), but a real quandary for online advertisers seeking to reach their targets.
The Point of Audience Fatigue
Elsewhere online, where advertising proliferates, some 40 percent of millennials already use adblockers, and that number is on the rise. As for Gen-Z, their tolerance for ads is next to zero, and Gen-Alpha integrates technology into their everyday lives without so much as blinking – even my three-year-old knows how to skip the ads on YouTube in a fragment of a second.
So, how can online advertising exist in such an environment? How can advertisers reach consumers despite growing apathy and government regulation?
Through blockchain technology, of course.
Its decentralized nature can democratize data, releasing ownership of your personal information back to you. Companies like Facebook and other data middlemen are consequently cut out of the system. Here’s how it works:
Monetizing Micro-Fragments of Data
Thanks to blockchain’s ability to register microtransactions, it is creating new value opportunities. Consumers can maintain control over their data and monetize it if they want to. Because everything about them is interesting to someone. While not many people care how many steps you took with your Fitbit today, you can bet there’s at least one advertiser aching for that information.
ICOs like Sooloox are springing up everywhere, allowing consumers to authorize their own data use and trade directly with the companies which want to buy it. Advertisers get the laser-targeted information they crave, and individuals get compensated. No bothersome banner ads involved, and no data middlemen. The platform transforms consumers from “data providers to data authorizers,” and gives them control over its use.
A similar premise is put forward by Social Cash, which intends to use blockchains to “disrupt digital advertising” and help consumers secure their identities. In what they call a new market (the “attention economy”), Social Cash aims to bring trust and transparency back to digital advertising (if those things ever existed). They also plan to resolve the problem of advertising fraud, which cost the industry around $7.2 billion last year.
Another player in this increasingly competitive space is YouGov Direct, making promises of consumer protection, transparency, and efficiency. These companies want data and are willing to pay for it. But now they can deal with consumers directly, helping individuals avoid ad fraud, abuse of data, and a whole host of underhand breaches of privacy as we move into an era of increased consumer data protection.
When we’re hearing about the marvels of blockchain technology every day, about how it will transform industries far and wide and change life as we know it, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. Will blockchain tech resolve the online advertising industry’s woes? Maybe. But it will be interesting to see what happens during the fallout.