Like the Internet, social media, and mobile before, blockchain technologies represent a significant opportunity for enterprise marketers to reduce the cost of marketing operations, create more unique customer experiences, build improved customer relationships, and reduce corporate risk.
We’ve been tracking the landscape of companies emerging to disrupt marketing with blockchain technology, and, since our first overview in September 2017, the space has expanded rapidly. At that time, there were 22 companies in the landscape. By earlier 2018, there were 88. And now, as of Q1 2019, there are 290. That’s a growth of 13x in just 18 months.
Those 290 blockchain projects and companies are tackling five areas within marketing: Programmatic & Decentralized Advertising, Content Marketing, Social Marketing. Commerce, Data, and Management.
There is also a set of companies that reward consumers for viewing ads or engaging with ads. Other reward-based categories include: Rewards Content Contributors, Email Rewards for reading emails, and Rewards Video Contributors. One of the most important categories as it relates to GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act is Transparent, User Rewarded Data, where consumers have visibility and ownership of their personal data.
We debated whether to restrict the landscape to just “pure-play” Blockchain marketing tech startup entities or to include existing companies building solutions to leverage blockchain technology. Ultimately, it makes sense to include anyone trying to leverage the capabilities of blockchain technology with the intention of helping marketers.
Tracking growth in various sectors of the blockchain marketing tech landscape provides a window into where entrepreneurs and startups believe the impact of blockchain will occur, or occur first.
The landscape tells you who is out there, not necessarily who is performing. As more of these projects get into the pilot phase and beyond, we’ll be able to provide additional data around how these projects are satisfying marketer needs.
Blockchain AdTech also makes strides
We’re also seeing a lot of movement specifically in the AdTech sector, where many groups are looking to solve some of the numerous challenges within advertising, including transparency in the supply chain, fraud mitigation, data privacy, payments and settlements, and putting consumers first.
Many are running tests now. The latest this week is from Lucidity, which discovered that just 59.8 percent percent of clicks could be confirmed as human traffic — leaving about 22,000 of 55,000 clicks unaccounted for.
The IAB announced a series of pilots with MetaX, FusionSeven, Kochava/XCHNG, and Lucidity back in July, mostly to provide transparency through the programmatic media supply chain. Unilever is testing IBM’s blockchain platform to validate the agreed spend and clarify discrepancies. Additionally, at Advertising Week, Brian Wong showcased Kiip’s test with AB Inbev to verify discrepancies using a single ledger to record time-stamped impression level campaign delivery.
We are also seeing significant increases in both the number of employees these entities are hiring and in total investment amounts they’ve raised, which we tabulated at $145 million in the programmatic space, based on press releases. Employee growth examples include Brave with 82 employees up from 25 12 months ago, Lucidity with 35, up from 10, and MetaX with 12, up from 9, based on conversations with each company.
There is also a notable inflow of seasoned talent into the industry. Joni Leimala, former Chief Strategy Officer at GroupM is now CEO of AdCoin, and Richard Bush, previously GM of Publisher Solutions at IPONWEB, is now President at NYIAX.
Informally, venture funding (as opposed to ICO funding) of blockchain-based marketing tech appears to be becoming the norm, and business models that involve blockchain but for whom tokens are merely a part of an execution strategy are increasingly prevalent. Use of technology appears to be entering a phase of build-out rather than pure speculation.
Overall, the growth in the number of venture-funded companies forging ahead into the blockchain space, particularly in a down period for the “crypto” markets, is a powerful signal of an emerging consensus that there is real value to be created through the use of blockchain technologies for marketing, regardless of the success or failure of the token economy.
All eyes are now looking forward, to the results from the case studies these first companies are executing. Over the next few months, those experiments will open a new chapter for marketing — one that may well vindicate these early entrepreneurs and their big bets on blockchain.
Donny Dvorin is GM of Never Stop Marketing Research.