Is the blockchain the solution to the advertising backlash?

Written by on February 5, 2016 in Opinion with 2 Comments

blockchain vs advertisingThe blockchain is becoming such a widely used word that you would be forgiven for thinking that we would use it simply to attract attention (Shurely not, Ed). It is a technology that is rapidly spreading through every aspect of our lives. Governments are considering it for a wide range of governance issues, banks and other financial institutions are pursuing its potential as aggressively as can be. The Bank of America has just filed 20 blockchain related patents, in addition to the 15 it has already submitted. It will, without doubt, fuel a mini boom in conferences, research papers, seminars, webinars and other events. Gartner’s hype cycle will buckle with excitement.

We can comfortably conclude that it has the world’s attention.

It might, just might, be a solution to the fast emerging advertising conundrum. The backlash against online advertising (print advertising is a different thing altogether – and well worth a look, later) is something we have written about a lot recently. The rise of ad blocking software, the popularity of catch up TV, privacy laws, the irritation of badly programmed programmatic advertising are leading, we believe, to a perfect storm for companies that rely too much on advertising revenue. These companies include Google and Facebook, the former just having taken over from Apple as the most valuable company, based on its advertising revenues.

Enter SatoshiPay’s CEO Meinhard Benn, who ‘wants to make web payments fun and fair’ and some interesting things suddenly become possible. Using the blockchain, according to Benn, means that ‘nano’ payments are not only possible, but also completely frictionless. For a long time, the problem with payments has been the cost of disputes and refunds. And, with credit cards and other payment mechanisms that rely on a chain to work, the fees and commission structure.

Imagine, says Benn, a widget that bobs along at the bottom of every web page you open. Imagine a pop up advert that starts and then says ‘don’t worry, we will load your page in 15 seconds’ and you get irritated. Imagine being able to click the widget and instantly, for a fraction of a cent, you can read the page free from the noise and distraction of the adverts. Effortless advertising removal.

Whether we are, culturally, ready to pay a tiny amount of money to avoid adverts (they are the intrusion, not us) is not clear.

What is clear is that in the battle for attention, where advertising is to a large extent a distraction or irritation, the ability to click a button to make it go away is interesting. It is also a possible revenue stream for publishers who are working their way through the whole ad blocking problem.

It is, perhaps, rash to suggest that advertising will completely disappear. If it does then our unspoken pact with the internet will be in tatters, but a balance – advertising or no advertising – might well be the answer.

After all, customers do like choices.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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  1. Me says:

    This is basically blackmail. “If you don’t pay us a tiny few 100th of a penny, we will show you this ad.” If people adopt it, all the ads go away. The page host has to share these tiny pennies with the (now, no longer) advertiser. What’s to stop some other group from offering to take the advertiser’s place for less money. Never works.

  2. Michah says:

    Blockchain technology was not architected to handle high-volume low-value real-time transactions.

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