For many, the term “blockchain” may seem synonymous with bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general. It’s a logical connection to make, but blockchain technology is so much more than that. As a powerful distributed ledger technology, blockchain has the potential to positively transform many existing lines of business.
One of the areas set to benefit the most from the burgeoning technology is advertising and marketing, especially in the form of influencer marketing. According to Werner Geyser, founder of Influence Marketing Hub:
Influencer marketing provides a huge opportunity for brands to deliver their messages to a broader audience. Blockchain technology in turn provides much needed regulation for transactions between brands and influencers, ensures transparency and ultimately provides security for everyone involved.
Having just concluded their popular ICO, with an impressive 13,946 ETH (approximately USD $6.5 million) of SMT tokens sold, SocialMedia.Market (SM.M) aims to be the vanguard company that brings blockchain’s potential to mainstream influencer marketing endeavors. The idea for the company came about in late 2016 when CEO and founder Dmitry Shyshov set about to find a way to address the widespread use of ad blockers online.
During his research, he noted the opportunities available in the influencer marketing industry. Shyshov himself is something of an influencer. He was a founder of top private game retailer R.Games, as well as Nontita, the company behind the CSGO.CASH marketplace for virtual items, so he had a sense of the tools needed by all the players.
“Influencers” are people with a wide following on social networks, in the blogosphere, and other Internet media, who already communicate directly with a loyal audience. They often recommend products and services that they like, and their audiences usually respond positively, often searching out and purchasing the same products and services. It’s that positive response that marketers are after. Endorsements from the right influencers can pay huge dividends for a brand, but the trick for marketers and advertisers is finding the right influencers for their products and services.
Most people would likely agree with Shyshov, who argues that digital advertising today is highly intrusive:
We wanted to create a solution for both brands and influencers who aren’t interested in irritating their audiences. […] Our aim is to provide an automated space that allows marketers to search for relevant influencers and then create and implement effective advertising campaigns. We also plan to supply the tools to effectively analyze their efforts, all in one space. I believe we can deliver on that for our users.
It’s been estimated that nearly three billion people around the world use social networks daily. That’s about 40% of the global population. Certainly, as social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter continue to hold sway with audiences, influencer marketing is proving to be one of the most powerful tools a marketer can employ to reach their target audiences. Influencer marketing is especially effective with “digital natives,” aka Generation Z and the Millennials (ages 16-34), who tend to discover new products and brands through social media and vlogs.
In their 2017 Marketer Survey, influencer marketing data company Activate reports that 67% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next year. Meanwhile, influencer marketing educator Shane Barker claims that well over half (69%) of marketers who use influencer marketing consider it effective, with 73% adding that it helps in lead generation and another 93% noting that it boosts brand awareness. It’s expected this trend will only continue to grow.
Influencer marketing could be an easy solution for modern advertising, but there’s still a number of hurdles facing digital marketers today, not the least of which is the complicated and often less than transparent payment system: the bulky supply chain can lead to price instability, serious pricing inflation, and non-payments, often because a client is unsatisfied with the influencer’s work product. This isn’t necessarily always the content creator’s fault, as the tasks and expectations may change over time.
This is where a platform like SM.M comes in. The app employs open and transparent smart contracts that set forth the terms of and prices for services. Since blockchain data is stored in multiple locations, the information can be distributed but not altered, making it completely public and quickly verifiable. An app like SM.M facilitates the fair exchange of value between all of the parties.
Using this system, contract fees can be held in escrow until the obligations established in the smart contract are met. Any subsequent changes to the obligations will be automatically added to the smart contract. Once the project is complete, the funds are paid, thereby securing the interests of both parties. SM.M even envisages a decentralized dispute resolution component, where platform users vote to resolve disputes on controversial cases.
Another project that offers a viable solution to many of the problems facing the market is Native Video Box (NVB). The platform is a decentralized video distribution system that places licensed video content on the publishing websites, driving massive additional viewership to content creators. NVB’s widget is inserted into a website, and the company’s AI technology proceeds to select the perfectly relevant content for the venue. Rather than viewing the resulting content as an intrusive annoyance, the site visitors now perceive videos as native to the site.
Essentially, NVB cuts out the congested ad supply chain, which allows the company to share up to 75% of ad-generated revenues with content producers and distributors, with 60% going to the publisher, 15% to the copyright owner, and 25% retained by the platform. The project founders believe that NVB’s ability to directly share ad revenues with those who truly create and distribute content will attract the best creators and top websites to the ecosystem.
Blockchain technology can also reduce the time required to launch marketing campaigns, help eliminate current difficulties in measuring their effectiveness and tackle the problem of scammers and fraud, which many marketers cite as the most pressing problems in the industry today. It will do so by bringing influencers, advertisers, and marketers together under one roof, providing tracking and analytical tools, and implementing know-your-customer (KYC) procedures. SM.M plans to bring together an unlimited number of bloggers from all major social networks, brands, and businesses of any size on its competitive blockchain platform. All pricing will be transparent, and all participants treated equally.
By and large, NVB shares this approach but it also views blockchain as a vital financial solution, which, on one hand, gives advertising outlets a rock-solid assurance that they will be paid the agreed amount of compensation, and, on the other hand, streamlines payments on the global marketplace, where each county has its own set of challenges and peculiarities. This is where their unique internal currency, NVB token, which is available for purchase until the end of April, will be instrumental in giving a peace of mind to influencers and venues alike.
SM.M advisor, Chafik Abdellaoui, says:
Blockchain is the bridge connecting influencers and their fans. Direct communication, fairness, and transparency – this is the true communication.
His enthusiasm for the technology is shared by his fellow advisory board members and well-known players in the marketing, AdTech, and blockchain spheres, including Keith Teare, Andrew Playford, Gabriel Zanko, Peter Zhalov, Alex Yastremski, Tatsunari Ono, and Slavik Nenaydokh.
According to Ono:
The social media audience in Japan alone is huge, which is why I was attracted to this project. SocialMedia.Market believes that blockchain technology can solve the problems influencer marketing faces, and I agree with them. That’s why I’ve given them my support and will be an early adopter of the platform.
Indeed, the company’s recently concluded ICO enjoyed great popularity in Asian markets, where just over 75% of their tokens were sold. The SMT token was particularly popular in Japan, where over 70% of the tokens were purchased. SM.M worked with ICOBox, a SaaS solution for companies who wish to run their own ICOs, and were advised by Daria Generalova and Dima Zaitsev. Generalova also specializes in Asian cryptocurrency markets and played a vital role in this area on the advisory board.
The next steps for SocialMedia.Market have already begun with token distribution underway, and the launch of their full product set for later this fall. They’ve also been busy pursuing strategic partnerships on research and development with other blockchain companies. With this goal in mind, the SM.M team views Native Video Box as a natural partner – the two companies are working in adjacent markets, offering mutually complementing solutions that were developed from slightly different angles. Together, they are striving to transform the rapidly growing social media marketing and video advertising industries.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, AdobeStock