Digital advertising is broken. The question is, can blockchain fix it?

The digital medium is holy water for advertising and promotion — or so it was thought at the beginning of the 21st century. However, what appeared a considerable promise firstly, now seems to struggle with a crisis.

Google and Facebook seemed to be revolutionaries of the advertising field, but now they hold it back.


As much as we’d love to believe that the Internet has finally given smaller companies freedom regarding bigger competitors, it is, in fact, creating monopolies on its own — including digital advertising.

Monopolies control data

A lot of us have heard a saying that goes “Data is the new oil”.


In fact, if we are going to think about data as a power source or fuel, then it would make more sense to consider its similarities with renewable sources like the sun, wind and tides. There is an abundance of it — more than we can ever use — and rather than fencing it off and reducing the supply, we should think about how we can make it more widely available to everyone.
Forbes, 2018

At first, those entities didn’t seem fit to compare with oil as one of the most important goods on the market and data being as much as an abstract concept.

However, that’s during the last decade that advertisers and companies understood the power of collecting customer data and use it to promote goods and services.

A lot of companies started harvesting data by using cookies, creating email lists, and so on. But only a few have the power of holding deep insights about hundreds of millions of their users — Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple.

It’s unclear how much data a platform like Facebook collects about a user. Some say it’s around 239 pages per profile. With more than a billion active users on Facebook and over a hundred million of those in Instagram, the amount of data the company stores and processes is huge.

We all know that the main way to benefit from collected data is advertising. And GAFA controls almost the entire market, as shown below.

The reason why companies like GAFA work so well is by being basically a double-edged sword — controlling supply, on one hand, and demand, on the other. Having control over users allows Google, Facebook, and other main tech giants to have power over advertisers as well.

But is this good news for advertising specialists?

At first glance, the data monopoly doesn’t seem harmful. After all, it costs physically nothing for a user to share his personal data(?) while advertisers can only benefit from platforms with a high density of users.

Diving deeper into it, we can see a dozen reasons why main digital advertisers do businesses more harm than good.

  • Control over the ad costs both in the US and worldwide.
  • Third-party relationships make advertisers waste money and target their goods and services inefficiently.
  • Centralization jeopardizes users’ privacy and leads to the loss of trust any kind of advertising:
  • The contents of ads started to suffer due to using display system over subscriptions — now advertisers are heavily relying on clickbait while the actual ad can be different from its teaser.

This list could go longer but the essential problems are those above. Advertisers can clearly see that digital marketing of the last decade is a mess. But can we hope for anything at all to change the state of affairs?

Blockchain steps in the game

It’s already been long-established that blockchain has all the potential for changing the world economy. Considering that advertising is one of the most important economic phenomena, it’s safe to conclude that changes will reform this industry as well.

In fact, it’s already happening. 2018 is often considered the year of blockchain — and rightfully so. At least, cast a glance on the cumulative ICO fundings:


The wave of technology’s popularity was going high and stable at the end of 2017, and it’s only logical that in 2018 kept up. The advertising industry is just another proof.

The primary focus of blockchain-based tools in advertising would be to ensure there’s personal contact between the advertiser and the consumer. The technology allows evading third-party mediation and connecting with potential clients directly.

1. Don’t just give your data away — sell it.

Instead of basically giving a way such a valuable resource as personal data, wouldn’t it be better if a user could voluntarily share his buying and browsing habits and get paid by an advertiser directly?

Turns out, blockchain is already empowering a tool with such an aim. An example: Papyrus, an advertising platform that claims that their system can save up to 50% of the advertising budget as well as protect businesses from ad fraud.

2. Pay for result, not fraud

Juniper Research showed that in 2018 users lost $19 billion in fraud, paying for non-existent results. The situation is not likely to change: Statista predicts the increase of the cost of advertising fraud to $44 billion. Three times more than in 2018.

This means digital ad fraud causes business owners to spend $1 on every $3 spent on overall digital campaigns. At the very least $1.

3. Over-the-roof expectations

Paying for advertising services is always buying a cat in a sack. Of course, experienced providers try to predict future outcome as precise as possible with A/B testing, audience analysis, and comprehensive big-data analytics.

However, there is no way to know that you pay for actual results — not for already mentioned fraud.

4. Solve the lack of trust

In 2015, Nielsen published a report that evaluated global advertising trust. Not surprisingly, the results were lower than previously in 2013, and before that in 2009. The tendency is apparent — advertising loses its efficiency, more precisely — its digital forms.

Business owners are promised to get native advertising that will look almost as user-generated content or featured materials.

However, as global results indicate, customers have learned to recognize such attempts and “native” methods start failing — slowly, but surely.

With blockchain and AI in the mix, advertisers can collect customer insights and achieve better results, creating ads that will actually appeal to target and therefore, be much more trustworthy.

5. Creating marketing and advertising strategies

Advertising is only effective if its strategy works.

Doing analytics, brainstorming, planning manually is a big pain in the neck for business owners — and they turn to assisting tools. Here, however, lies the issue. All the planning tools require tons of data which means, business owners just give their customers confidential information away.

Now imagine if the server gets hacked, and data is leaked or erased. Business owners get themselves in huge trouble, having no control of a business. This, of course, makes planning harder and riskier.

However, there already exist constant blockchain innovations that solve that one issue as well. Triggmine, a decentralized platform for marketing automation, combines analytics, marketing, and advertising in one ready-to-go mix.

Such mix includes all central marketing communications with retargeting, messengers, push notifications, voice assistants, web personalization, display advertising, call center, Point Of Sale, social networks, social advertising, and forms (surveys).

Now business owners not only can make digital campaigns easier but have a platform do it for them. Seemed like fiction years ago, now it’s reality.

Advertising is broken, it’s true. However, blockchain has all the right moves to fix it.

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