With the advent of cryptocurrencies such as the famous Bitcoin (I’m still waiting to recoup my losses), Etherium (I’m still waiting to recoup my losses), Litecoin (I’m still waiting to recoup my losses), and hundreds more, the general public has been made aware of a far more interesting (in my humble opinion) invention: blockchain. How will this new technology affect the internet and for the purposes of this blog post, the work of digital marketers?
What is Blockchain?
A relatively new concept developed in 2008, blockchain is the reason cryptocurrencies are able to exist. This technology is essentially a digital ledger of economic transactions, where everyone part of a transaction has an immutable record, rather than through a centralized platform. Basically, blockchain is a fancy, incorruptible Google Sheet with its sharing settings set to public.
This technology makes it almost impossible to falsify data, while also creating a permanent record from start to finish. Cryptocurrencies are just the beginning, blockchain can also be used to record virtually anything of value, not just money, which calls for endless possibilities across various industries. This includes healthcare, banking, internet privacy, manufacturing and can even change the way we vote. So how does this new technology relate to digital marketing and how will it affect the way marketers do their jobs in the future?
Blockchain’s Impact on Paid Advertising
Goodbye to the middleman! To put it lightly, it’s likely that Google will be forced to loosen its grip on paid advertising as blockchain’s transparency will remove the necessity of search engines to act as an authority for paid advertising.
Thank You, Next
Ads are essential to many organizations, and this necessity has made companies like Google, Facebook, and other social media platforms a lot of money. In fact, organizations depend on Google for its trustworthy advertising network, Google Adsense, which helps website owners and advertisers trust each other, monitoring click-through-rates while taking a huge cut of the money for this service. However, if we had a system which already creates this trust (ahem, blockchain), we wouldn’t need Google in the middle taking a cut of the profits.
In fact, with blockchain added to this relationship, we can verify that every user is 100% genuine, allowing website owners to charge the actual cost of validated clicks to their website. Which leads us into fraud reduction…
Advertising fraud has cost up to 56% of marketers’ advertising spend in 2016. A practically unhackable, transparent, virtual ledger will make fraud nearly impossible. Blockchain technology would effectively eliminate click fraud with its innate transparency, allowing marketing teams to see specifically who clicked on and viewed their organization’s ads. This enables you to cut off any bot driven advertising before it even begins.
What does this mean for the current ad networks? Honestly, it’s hard to say. Google may already be 20 steps ahead and creating their own digital ledgers. But what we do know is that blockchain will almost certainly disrupt the current status quo.
Blockchain and SEO
When you think of blockchain, most minds don’t immediately think, “but how will this change the landscape of SEO?” However, blockchain technology could change the way SEOs do our jobs. Good thing we’re already used to a constantly changing landscape.
Consumers will start relying on the blockchain’s transparency to help them make decisions. There may come a day when blockchain’s transparent ledgers will have as much or even more of an effect on spending habits as Yelp or Google Reviews. People may start deciding where to buy and how to consume based on whether a website is integrated with blockchain, and look at a company’s digital ledger to confirm its honesty and how it operates.
Search engines will eventually have to access these blockchain records in order to determine the legitimacy of merchants and index the information. What does this mean? Perhaps search algorithms will change based on trusted results. Google may begin using blockchain ledgers as a signal of trust, affecting ranking methods and changing the way SEOs strategize around content, keywords and other ranking signals.
Checking up on keyword rankings for clients can bring frustration, as no measurement of these search terms is completely reliable. Location, device type, login status, and browser type can all affect keyword positions between users. Blockchain, however, could help solve this issue. Using blockchain, SEO tool providers could track the average keyword position across a variety of scenarios while using data from users who were incentivized to join a specific network. Theoretically, an almost-infinite amount of data could be collected, and collected fast, resulting in increasingly accurate keyword rankings.
While natural link building has been the gold standard for building authority, we won’t have to worry anymore about the smarmy techniques used to generate links. Goodbye blackhat link building techniques! Using blockchain, search engines could be able to recognize and penalize any website that is caught buying links for their own benefit.
As blockchain becomes more well known, the general public will start expecting to see web pages with blockchain already implemented in the code, most likely in the case of e-commerce. SEOs will have to work with developers or Google Tag Manager to ensure that each website is equipped with blockchain. Content Management Systems will have to ensure their CMS is blockchain integrated. And some in the Schema community are already working on Schema Markups for blockchain certificates.
Blockchain has a surprising number of applications and is bound to change the way the world works… unless it doesn’t. Honestly, the only way to know how this new technology will transform the world is to wait and see. Until then, we can prepare ourselves by reading up on the ever-changing world of not only blockchain but the various other technologies with the potential to reshape how digital marketers do their work. If you want to learn more about blockchain, check out this beginner’s guide from the folks at Blockgeeks.