Digital Influence marketing

The blockchain in influencer marketing: what’s the reality?

, 22 November 2018

When the price of cryptocurrencies shot up at the end of last year, blockchain technology was the talk of the town, and influencer marketing wasn’t immune to it. Some projects emerged, suggesting that the future of the segment was bound to this new technology. Since then, the “crypto bubble” has burst and doubt has set in. So, is it still promising? We have a look at its real potential!

The blockchain is only a technology, not an end in itself

We have to be wary of miracle solutions: the blockchain is only a technology, even just a protocol. It’s therefore a means, not an end in itself. It depends instead on how it’s applied. To say the opposite would be to say that a website is only effective when it is based on a particular protocol or computer language: it all depends on how the database is used to concretely develop a successful result.

Indeed, today there still isn’t a concrete case of a successful use of the blockchain for an influencer marketing platform. And it still remains in doubt because influencer marketing, more than any other marketing segment, is based on the human. Unlike a conventional advertising platform (like Facebook Ads), web marketing must adopt a relational approach with the influencer, and ideally even build a long-term relationship. If a technology could take over this aspect, it would probably be Artificial Intelligence, but we’re not there yet!

The blockchain is not a measurement solution

If the blockchain remains a promising technology, there’s one area in which it is simply useless: performance measurement. It’s important to clarify this here, as surprisingly, this argument is used by many of the platforms that are currently developing. The blockchain could simplify everything, including producing reports. False.

At best, it would be possible to enter a campaign’s results into an influencer’s profile on the blockchain, to allow a potential client to predict a new campaign’s performance using that same influencer. However, the data has to be entered manually, (so the human remains unavoidable) and moreover, past performance won’t guarantee anything for a new campaign, it’s simply a useful indicator. But any platform can offer the same service, without necessarily using blockchain technology.

The blockchain doesn’t eliminate fraud

If the blockchain is the future of influencer marketing, we would expect it to solve its most pressing challenge: fraud. Unfortunately the technology is far from being effective in fighting against this plague.

  • Data entry on the blockchain remains manual and therefore susceptible to manipulation. If a malicious marketer, for reason x or y, inserts false data about an influencer, such as an exaggerated engagement rate, the blockchain is unable to prevent this falsification. This fantasist engagement rate is now associated with the influencer and visible to all other advertisers using the platform, making it possible for them to be duped.
  • Even worse, if a given input is false, it remains so forever. The great strength of the blockchain is that it’s immutable. Once entered, data can’t in principle be modified or corrupted. An advantage, unless that data is false.
  • The blockchain is powerless against click fraud. The blockchain promises to revolutionize the agreements between the actors of the value chain. But it can’t control the smooth running of a campaign. Do you also want it to make the toast while you’re at it?

So, what’s the interest of the blockchain for influencing?

Yes, despite the critical (but justified) tone of this article, there are many potential virtuous uses of blockchain technology for influencer marketing, we listed them in the article below. In particular for the relations between advertiser and influencer, as well as for their monetary transactions. But it’s doubtful that this will eliminate the need for an intermediary, even if its just because we need someone to develop the platform in the first place.

The recent Bitcoin and cryptocurrency crash this year has demonstrated it yet again: blockchain technology has yet to prove its usefulness and ability to penetrate a mass market. What’s true about cryptocurrency is even more with marketing. To be followed.

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