Jeremy Epstein paints a picture of post-blockchain marketing and advertising
At our MarTech Conference, blockchain’s most energetic proselytizer lays out what is taking place and what is coming.
Jeremy Epstein is on a mission.
For some time now, the former VP of marketing of social experience platform Sprinklr has been proselytizing how blockchain — and its accompanying toolset of cryptography, tokens, smart contacts, decentralized administration and permanent recording — will disrupt a host of industries.
As he has in previous MarTech Conferences, Epstein brought his firehose of enthusiasm to this year’s gathering in San Jose, California, but this time with a focus on how blockchain tech will roil marketing.
Blockchain tech, he said yesterday at a session on “Marketing in a Blockchain World,” is a “technological disruption of epic proportions.”
In Epstein’s view, blockchain enables a variety of functions that change the centralized, marketer-centric world into a decentralized, consumer-centric environment where the big missing value — trust — becomes a built-in byproduct.
This idea that trust is now a hugely valuable asset for marketing is percolating through a number of sessions and keynotes here at the Conference. In fact, one of the many shorthand descriptors Epstein employs for blockchain tech is that it is “the trust machine.”
Products can automatically be tracked from their harvest or their factory to the retailer, with their provenance available immediately because everyone can view an online blockchain instance of their journey. As a result, no more fake Chilean rugs, or whatever.
Tokens, which can be generated by a blockchain when assets are added, will become a major new currency with which marketers can pay consumers for their attention, according to Epstein and others.
‘Every industry will be tokenized’
The tokens might be converted to loyalty points from one or more brands, or to cash. They become an engine by which consumers and businesses can turn the value of their attention into actual exchangeable currency, a vision that a variety of startups like Earn.com are now attempting.
In fact, Epstein contends, “every industry will be tokenized,” where those units of value are distributed to participants as a way of boosting their engagement. If you rent an apartment from a blockchain-based apartment exchange, for instance, you can get tokens to encourage you to return and to tell others.
A token-based environment can also help lower customer acquisition costs, since consumers will gain from looking at ads or participating in a transaction, so they may well seek out marketers.
Smart contracts, backed by cryptographic validation when the terms of payment are fulfilled, will reduce the need, costs and complexity of middlemen in such industries as digital advertising, a vision that is already taking shape in launches by such startups as Nasdaq partner NYIAX.
“Advertisers have money and they want people,” he pointed out, “and publishers have people and they want money.” As shown in Scott Brinker’s current Marketing Technology Landscape, Epstein said, a lot of middlemen companies are mediating that basic value exchange, whereas blockchain functions could flatten it out so advertisers and publishers can interact more directly and thus keep more of their own value.
Personal data can be tracked automatically in blockchain-based ledgers, such as providing an audit trail for its erasure, providing an immediately accessible way of knowing what companies and governments know about you and when they have taken the steps you requested.
As wild as Epstein’s vision is, virtually all of the prospects he describes are currently in some stage of release, beta or experimentation. It remains to be seen if they will remake marketing, advertising and any of the other industries — financial, health records, real estate markets and more — where they are now works in progress.
But, at a time when the same kind of visionary enthusiasm that once propelled the internet is now slamming into fake news stories, hacked mountains of personal data and the emergence of preferential lanes of online traffic, a huge burst of creative reconstruction by blockchain technology would hit the spot.