Few technologies promise to have an impact on the marketplace as tremendous as the blockchain technology. Though many professionals in the search marketing industry are still entirely unfamiliar with it. Blockchain’s disruptive nature is changing the nature of digital advertising regardless of whether some professionals hear about it or not, however, meaning it’s imperative to catch up on how this technology is changing the industry if you want to remain competitive.
Here are five of the major ways that blockchain will impact search marketing, and how advertising professionals are already beginning to master this interesting technology as it takes over.
1. Blockchain will make ads trustworthy
Consumers hate advertisements for a number of reasons, but by and large the most common is that they simply think advertising technology is untrustworthy. Nobody likes feeling as if they are being surveilled 24/7, and few people trust digital advertisements that appear on their screen enough to click on them, even if its contents are interesting. Blockchain technology promises to help this problem by securing the ad supply chain and making the marketing process more trustworthy to consumers everywhere.
Soon, thanks to blockchain services, ad tech vendors, buyers, and publishers will be more connected than ever before. Transparency, that is sorely needed in the ad supply chain can be brought about by the application of blockchain services, which thanks to their nature as ledgers are accessible to every party involved in a financial transaction. Website owners and ad vendors of the future will thus be able to operate with one another much more securely when making marketing arrangements.
2. Blockchain is delivering ad transparency
Elsewhere, blockchain services will be applied to make ads more transparent in an effort to win over the trust of skeptical consumers. Companies like Unilever are now teaming up with the likes of IBM on blockchain projects that they hope will disclose information about their business footprint and the way they collect and utilize information on customers. As these endeavors become more successful, others will be convinced to enlist the help of blockchain technology when it comes to ensuring a transparent advertising industry.
3. Blockchain is changing ad payments
Blockchain technology will also impact search marketing by disrupting the way that advertisement payments are facilitated. Companies like Amino Payments will soon be springing up left and right as the market for blockchain services grows larger and larger. These businesses will help mainstream blockchain-powered ad buys that make use of interesting smart contracts. While smart contracts are only just beginning to become an accepted part of the business world, they’ll be a mainstream facet of doing business sooner than we think, all thanks to the wonderful power of blockchain.
4. New advertising ecosystems are springing up
Some of the ways that blockchain is impacting search marketing are truly monumental. Blockchain technology is helping new advertising ecosystems get on their feet, for instance, with nascent companies like Adshares that are working hard to create a blockchain-based advertising ecosystem. As cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-powered technologies become more mainstream, we’ll see an increased need for blockchain-friendly payment systems.
Search marketing professionals in the future may have to rely on specialized expertise when navigating these new blockchain-powered advertising ecosystems that use a standard bitcoin wallet, which will become dominated by the IT-savvy. Programmatic advertising has already been upended time and again in recent years as the digital revolution brought about better computers, and the rise of blockchain could very well be the next stage in that cycle of disruption.
5. New blockchain browsers will reshape user experiences
Finally, the digital experience of the average consumer will be fundamentally changed by the introduction of blockchain browsers. Browser options like Brave are becoming more popular and grabbing headlines as they promise a privacy-respecting internet experience that features more honest and safer ad tech. Our current understandings of the marketing world may be entirely useless a few years from now when blockchain powered browsers off secure, personalized search options to users who are sick and tired of modern advertising gurus.
Search marketing is in for more than its fair share of disruptive changes in the forthcoming years, largely because of the advent of blockchain technology. Like any other technological innovation, blockchain will take time and investment to grow into its full potential, but it’s already quite clear that its development is jarring advertising professionals.
Happy Blockchain Week to you and yours. HTC helped kick off this important national holiday by announcing the upcoming release of the HTC Exodus 1s. The latest version of the company’s intriguing blockchain phone shaves some of price off the Exodus 1 — which eventually sold for $ 699 when the company made it available in more traditional currency.
HTC’s being predictably cagey about exact pricing here, instead simply calling it “a more value-oriented version” of the original. Nor is the company discussing the actions it’s taking to reduce the cost here — though I’d expect much of them to be similar to those undergone by Google for the Pixel 3a, which was built by the former HTC team. There, most of the hits were to processing power and building material. Certainly the delightfully gimmicky transparent rear was a nice touch on the Exodus 1.
Most interesting here is the motivation behind the price drop. Here’s HTC in the press release:
It will allow users in emerging economies, or those wanting to dip their toes into the crypto world for the first time, easier access to the technology with a more accessible price point. This will democratize access to crypto and blockchain technology and help its global proliferation and adoption. HTC will release further details on exact specification and cost over the coming months.
A grandiose vision, obviously, but I think there’s something to be said for the idea. Access to some blockchain technology is somewhat price-prohibitive. Even so. Many experts in the space agree that blockchain will be an important foundation for microtransactions going forward. The Exodus 1 wasn’t exactly a smash from the look of things, but this could be an interesting first step.
Another interesting bit in all of this is the opening of the SDK for Zion Vault, the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) product vault the company introduced with the Exodus 1. HTC will be tossing it up on GitHub for developers. “We understand it takes a community to ensure strength and security,” the company says, “so it’s important to the Exodus team that our community has the best tools available to them.”
Citizens Reserve, a Bay Area startup, has a broad goal of digitizing the supply chain. Last fall, the company launched the Alpha version of Suku, a Supply Chain as a Service platform built on the blockchain. Today, it announced a partnership with Smartrac, an RFID tag manufacturer, based in Amsterdam, as a key identity piece for the platform.
Companies use RFID to track products from field or factory to market. Eric Piscini, CEO at Citizens says this partnership helps solve a crucial piece of digitizing the supply chain. It provides a way to trace products on their journey to market, and ensure their provenance, whether that is to be sure no labor was exploited in production, environmental standards were maintained or that the products were stored under the proper conditions to ensure freshness.
One of the big issues in track and trace on the supply chain is simply identifying the universe of items in motion across the world at any given moment. RFID tagging provides a way to give each of these items a digital identity, which can be placed on the blockchain to help prevent fraud. Once you have an irrefutable digital identity, it solves a big problem around digitizing the supply chain.
He said this is all part of a broader effort to move the supply chain to the digital realm by building a platform on the blockchain. This not only provides an irrefutable, traceable digital record, it can have all kinds of additional benefits like reducing theft and fraud and ensuring provenance.
There are so many parties involved in this process from farmers and manufacturers to customs authorities to shipping and container companies to logistics companies moving the products to market to the stores that sell the goods. Getting all of the various parties involved in the supply chain to move to a blockchain solution remains a huge challenge.
Today’s partnership offers one way to help build an identity mechanism for the Citizens Reserve solution. The company is also working on other partnerships to help solve other problems like warehouse management and logistics.
The company currently has 11 employees based in Los Gatos, California. It has raised $ 11 million, according to Piscini.
Creators of the 1Sheeld, a tool designed to connect smartphones to Arduino boards, have created something even more interesting. Their latest product, the Elkrem, is a smart kit for creating blockchain IoT devices and they have raised $ 250,000 from Endure Capital and Consensys to build the project.
The founders are Amr Saleh and Islam Mustafa launched the 1Sheeld at TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 and sold tens of thousands of units in 120 countries. Now they’re building a new tool based entirely on blockchain.
“Elkrem is a Blockchain hardware development board. It allows Blockchain developers to integrate Dapps with hardware prototypes in an easy way without having deep knowledge in hardware development, and also allows electrical engineers and hardware developers to connect Blockchain to their hardware projects without having deep knowledge of how the Blockchain works,” said Saleh. “So they both can trigger actuators through smart contracts and log sensors data to smart contracts as well.”
The board is similar to an Arduino and has two processors, storage, and WiFi model. One processor runs a specialized Linux variant with interfaces to Ethereum, IPFS, Swarm, Whisper, Bitcoin, Status.im, and others. The other processor can do anything else you throw at it.
“Our edge is faster development, faster prototyping and faster go to market,” said Saleh. “The board allows you to send private, decentralized IoT messages using peer-to-peer communication”
What does all this mean? Basically it’s a little board that makes it far easier to manage your Blockchain efforts. It uses a library called Koyn to let you accept payments in Bitcoin with a single line of code and they even built a few cool projects including a Bitcoin-enabled candy machine and an electrical outlet that you can rent with Bitcoins. The team plans to go live on Kickstarter later this year.
Xage (pronounced Zage), a blockchain security startup based in Silicon Valley, announced a $ 12 million Series A investment today led by March Capital Partners. GE Ventures, City Light Capital and NexStar Partners also participated.
The company emerged from stealth in December with a novel idea to secure the myriad of devices in the industrial internet of things on the blockchain. Here’s how I described it in a December 2017 story:
Xage is building a security fabric for IoT, which takes blockchain and synthesizes it with other capabilities to create a secure environment for devices to operate. If the blockchain is at its core a trust mechanism, then it can give companies confidence that their IoT devices can’t be compromised. Xage thinks that the blockchain is the perfect solution to this problem.
It’s an interesting approach, one that attracted Duncan Greatwood to the company. As he told me in December his previous successful exits — Topsy to Apple in 2013 and PostPath to Cisco in 2008 — gave him the freedom to choose a company that really excited him for his next challenge.
When he saw what Xage was doing, he wanted to be a part of it, and given the unorthodox security approach the company has taken, and Greatwood’s pedigree, it couldn’t have been hard to secure today’s funding.
The Industrial Internet of Things is not like its consumer cousin in that it involves getting data from big industrial devices like manufacturing machinery, oil and gas turbines and jet engines. While the entire Internet of Things could surely benefit from a company that concentrates specifically on keeping these devices secure, it’s a particularly acute requirement in industry where these devices are often helping track data from key infrastructure.
GE Ventures is the investment arm of GE, but their involvement is particularly interesting because GE has made a big bet on the Industrial Internet of Things. Abhishek Shukla of GE Ventures certainly saw the connection. “For industries to benefit from the IoT revolution, organizations need to fully connect and protect their operation. Xage is enabling the adoption of these cutting edge technologies across energy, transportation, telecom, and other global industries,” Shukla said in a statement.
The company was founded just last year and is based in Palo Alto, California.
Increasingly we are going to be having bots conducting business on a company’s behalf. As that happens, it is going to require a trust mechanism to ensure that bot-to-bot communication is legitimate. BotChain, a new startup out of Boston wants to be the blockchain for registering bots.
The new blockchain, which is built on Ethereum, is designed to register and identify bots and provide a way for companies to collaborate between bots with auditing capabilities built in. BotChain has the potential to become a standard way of sharing data between bots in a trusted way.
The idea is to have an official and sanctioned place for companies to register their bots securely. As the organization describes it, “BotChain offers bot developers, enterprises, software companies, and system integrators the critical systems, standards, and means to validate, certify, and manage the millions of bots and billions of transactions powered by AI.
The company was created by the team at Talla, a bot startup in Cambridge, but the goal is to open this up to much larger community of partners and expand. In fact, early partners include Gupshup, a platform for developers and Howdy.ai, B2B enterprise bot developers along with Polly, CareerLark, Disco (formerly Growbot), Zoom.ai, and Botkeeper.
BotChain is the brainchild of Rob May, who is CEO at Talla. He was formerly co-founder and CEO at Backupify, which was sold to Datto in 2014. He recognized that as bot usage increases, there needed to be a system in place to help companies using bots to exchange information, and eventually even digital currencies to complete transactions in a fully digital context.
May believes that blockchain is the best solution to build this trust mechanism because of the ledger’s nature as an immutable and irrefutable record. If the entities on the blockchain agree to work with one another, and the other members allow it, there should be an element of confidence inherent in that.
He points to other advantages such as being decentralized so that no single company can control the data on the blockchain, and of course nobody can erase a record once it’s been written to the chain. It also provides a way for bots to identify one another in an official way and for participating companies to track transactions between bots.
Talla opened this up to a community of users because it wants BotChain to be a standard way for bots to exchange information. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but these types of projects could be important building blocks as companies look for ways to conduct business confidently, even when there are no humans involved.
BotChain has raised $ 5 million USD in a private token sale to institutional investors such as Galaxy Digital, Pillar, Glasswing and Avalon, according to the company.
In addition, they will be conducting another token pre-sale starting this Friday to raise additional funds from community stakeholders. “This token sale is a way to give [our community] access. Purchasing these tokens allows users to start registering their assets and create chains of immutable records of what their machines have done,” May explained. He said the company expects to raise $ 20 million this year from stakeholder token sales.
You can learn more about Botchain from this video:
Solving complex data-driven problems requires a lot of teamwork. But, of course, teamwork is typically restricted to companies where everyone is working under the same roof. While distributed teams have become commonplace in tech startups, taking that to the next level by linking up disparate groups of people all working on the same problem (but not in the same company) has been all but impossible. However, in theory, you could use a blockchain to do such a thing, where the work generated was constantly accounted for on-chain.
That’s in theory. In practice, there’s now a startup that claims to have come up with this model. And it’s raised funding.
Covee, a startup out of Berlin, has raised a modest €1.35 million in a round led by LocalGlobe in London, with Atlantic Labs in Berlin and a selection of angels. Prior to this, the company was bootstrapped by CEO Dr. Marcel Dietsch, who left his job at a London-based hedge fund, and his long-time friend, Dr. Raphael Schoettler, COO, who had previously worked for Deutsche Bank. They are joined by Dr. Jochen Krause, CTO, an early blockchain investor and bitcoin miner, and former quant developer and data scientist, respectively, at Scalable Capital and Valora.
What sort of things could this platform be used for? Well, it could be used to bring together people to use machine learning algorithms to improve cancer diagnosis through tumor detection, or perhaps develop a crypto trading algorithm.
There are obvious benefits to the work of scientists. They could work more flexibly, access a more diverse range of projects, choose their teammates and have their work reviewed by peers.
The platform also means you could be rewarded fairly for your contribution.
The upside for corporates is that they can use distributed workers where there is no middleman platform to pay and no management consultancy fees, and access a talent pool (data engineers, statisticians, domain experts), which is difficult to bring inside the firm.
Now, there are indeed others doing this, including Aragon (decentralized governance for everything), Colony (teamwork for everything) and Upwork (freelance jobs platform for individuals). All are different and have their limitations, of course.
Covee plans to make money by having users pay a transaction fee for using the network infrastructure. They plan to turn this into a fully open-source decentralized network, with this transaction fee attached. But Covee will also offer this as a service if clients prefer not to deal with blockchain tokens and the platform directly.
Dietsch says: “Covee was founded in the first half of 2017 in Berlin and relocated to Zurich, Switzerland late 2017 where we incorporated Covee Network. Moving to Switzerland was important for us because it has one of the oldest and strongest blockchain ecosystems in the world and an excellent pipeline of talent from institutions such as ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich. The crypto-friendly stance of the country means it has all the necessary infrastructure as well as clear regulations for token economies.”
An ecologist argues that cryptographically-sealed databases could starve out inefficiencies that are ruining the environment. The post A Curious Plan to Save the Environment With the Blockchain appeared first on WIRED.
IBM unveiled its “Blockchain as a Service” today, which is based on the open source Hyperledger Fabric, version 1.0 from The Linux Foundation. IBM Blockchain is a public cloud service that customers can use to build secure blockchain networks. The company introduced the idea last year, but this is the first ready-for-primetime implementation built using that technology.… Read More
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