10 Ways Blockchain Could Change The Marketing Industry This Year

Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency. Ethereum. These related buzzwords have been in just about every business publication lately, and it seems that everyone wants to learn more about blockchain, the decentralized ledger technology behind it all.

Experts predict that 2018 will be a huge year for blockchain, noting that the technology is poised to dramatically change a wide range of existing industries. What does the rise of blockchain mean for digital marketing? We asked members of the Forbes AgencyCouncil to share their thoughts.

Images courtesy of FAC members.

FAC members weigh in on the blockchain.

1. Brands Will Be Able To Better Target Consumers

Like many emerging technologies, it is very early to truly understand how blockchain will impact marketing. It has the ability to remove the middleman in digital advertising. However, that may take years to displace Google and Facebook, if ever. Because of blockchain’s transparency, it will initially help brands build trust with consumers. – Lisa Allocca, Red Javelin Communications

2. Malicious Ads Will Grow

JavaScript-based cryptocurrency miners have already been found in the wild, wasting visitors’ CPU power to send “coins” back to website owners. 2018 will see an explosion of this type of shady ad to top-tier sites, especially as “on by default” ad blockers become more popular. Website owners will be searching for new ways to monetize but must balance the ethical use of their visitors’ resources. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH

3. Privacy Concerns Will Be Resolved And Advertiser Trust Will Increase

Giving users control over the amount of personal information they reveal appeases privacy concerns from the user perspective and promotes social responsibility from the advertiser’s side. Studies routinely show that if you ask permission first, users are more than willing to give you personal information if there’s a reward in turn. That reward is paying users directly to view ads. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

4. Decentralization Will Remove The Media Middlemen

Marketing and advertising startups in the blockchain space are already popping up. These aim to tokenize user behavior and offer a sort of credit system between advertisers and the consumer, which completely removes the massive middlemen managing big media. As we continue to decentralize our world, this is inevitable. Be smart. Move away from being a middleman. Be the source. – Trevor Chapman, Trevor Chapman Group

5. The Fraud Verification Industry Will Grow

Advertising online is complex when it comes to ensuring media is bought and delivered as intended. Blockchain will make this more transparent. I predict that fraud verification companies will, or have already begun, the blockchain process to evaluate how we can stop bots and fraudsters from stealing ad dollars from brands. Blockchain will allow us to verify who, how and where ads run. – Ashley Walters, Empower MediaMarketing

6. Delivery And Reporting Will Transform

The first marketing area affected last year by blockchain, even on a small scale, was video content delivery. That will extend beyond video to more content producers this year. They will love how they can control how their assets are delivered and ensure it’s properly tracked. Then, once advertisers experience verified delivery and reporting, it will be required. – Todd Earwood, MoneyPath Marketing

7. Advertising Will Become More Transparent

Marketers love to publish case studies of their outliers that are getting amazing results. The gradual implementation of blockchain will provide transparency on marketing claims by every journey having the ability to be analyzed and validated. This will even lead to the ability to also negotiate contracts and accept terms based on those results. – Douglas Karr, DK New Media

8. Influencers Will Become Fewer In Number But Better In Quality

Influencer marketing campaigns are going to change dramatically. With blockchain, marketers will be able to see if the influencer’s followers are true people or simply bots. Essentially, it will reduce the number of influencers but leave the top influencers at the top. – Loren Baker, Foundation Digital

9. Publishers Will Become More Accountable

Technologies like Ethereum make publishers more accountable as transactions become more transparent. Advertisers can see exactly where their traffic is going. Ad data is paramount — it’s shocking how much information we don’t have. Measuring impressions doesn’t cut it. Blockchain technology will unveil everything, decreasing fraud and increasing attribution. – Michael Weinhouse, Logical Position

10. It Will Solve Numerous Industry Issues

There are blockchain projects being created that might provide solutions around payment processing or fraud prevention within the ad exchange environment. Other areas of interest blockchain technology could solve for are measurement, invoice reconciliation and publisher/advertiser transactions. – Chad Recchia, Awlogy


Why fashion is the world’s most polluting industry

The fashion week tents have been packed up and the models sent home until the next collection debuts, but one deeply entrenched industry trend shows no sign of stopping: Fast fashion, which has become one of the biggest sources of pollution in the world.

According to a recent report, the textile industry emits more greenhouse gas emissions than international shipping and aviation combined. And the amount of waste the industry generates, as well as how much water and resources it uses, is increasing.

Since 2000, global clothes production has more than doubled, and the average person now buys 60 percent more items of clothing every year and keeps them for about half as long as they did 15 years ago. In the USA, over 85 percent of those clothes end up in a landfill.

China, which produces 50 percent of the world’s textiles, and imports the largest amount of recycled clothing, has been dealing with pollution from the industry for decades: Most recycled clothing from around the world is up routed there and turned into yarn. But starting this year, China will begin implementing a ban on the import of 24 solid materials, including textiles.

Nate Herman, the Senior Vice President of Supply Chain for the American Apparel & Footwear Association told VICE News things are going to get much worse.

“They have cut the source materials for recycled fabrics. It will have a very negative effect on our efforts to make the industry more sustainable,” he said.

But recycling clothes currently is extremely difficult — much of our clothing is from blended fabrics or synthetic materials, meaning that it is often more time and resource intensive to recycle them than to just produce new clothes.

Some experts, such as Ellen MacArthur whose foundation is leading the charge on creating a circular economy for textiles and who estimates that waste generated from textiles is worth $500 billion a year, believes that the fashion industry needs to go beyond just better recycling.

VICE News examines efforts to transform the textile economy and how some big name companies like H&M and Nike have signed up.


What Marketing Leads in Companies

Results from the February 2018 CMO Survey indicate marketing leaders are experiencing higher levels of responsibility in their organizations.

Marketing leads the following activities in most companies: brand, digital marketing, advertising, social media, public relations, promotion, positioning, marketing research, lead generation, marketing analytics, competitive intelligence, and customer experience (see Figure for a complete listing).

Table showing what aspects of company operations marketing leads.The CMO Survey

Marketing Leadership in Companies

Two areas that concern me are that marketing only leads innovation in 30% of companies and new products in 33% of companies. Ensuring the voice of the customer is built into the design and delivery of new products and services is a key way to that marketing can contribute in companies and I hope these percentages will increase.

Finally, we asked marketing leaders whether they think it is appropriate for their brand to take a stance on politically-charged issues. Only 17.4% agreed with this statement. In an era when CEO activism is more common than ever, this will be an interesting trend to watch. How is your company approaching this issue?

Click here to see if you qualify to participate in the next CMO Survey.


Understanding How Millennials Respond To Your Marketing Efforts

How do you market to a generation that lives and works differently than any other generation before it? That’s the challenge that digital marketers are currently facing when it comes to grabbing the attention of the generation known as Gen Y, the selfie generation, the always-on generation or, the term most commonly used, millennials.

The Generation X is characterized by its strong work ethic, sound decision making and stability. Those qualities made marketing to Gen Xers easy. Millennials, on the other hand, have left marketers wondering how to grab the attention of a population that has their heads stuck in their electronic devices. But what seems to be a social faux pas is actually an asset in marketing. I’ve learned that the key to marketing to millennials is learning more about how they think and respond to ads.

Here’s what we know about millennials.

The millennial generation was born between approximately 1980 and 2000. Millennials are expected to be America’s largest generation by 2019, which means they make up a fair share of the marketing audience. Millennials started using technology the minute they could walk and talk. While some aspects of technology are foreign to other generations, it’s second nature to the selfie generation.

Society has also labeled millennials as being entitled, impatient and more likely to expect immediate gratification. But perhaps what is less known about millennials is that they’re a socially conscious bunch. They’re happy to pay companies more if they’re local or support a green economy.

Millennials shop differently than past generations.

In marketing to millennials, I’ve often had to remind myself that they’ve grown up in harsher economic times than Gen Xers. Millennials have a lower median income and less disposable income than past generations. They’ve learned how to live well on less, and that makes their shopping habits much different from their predecessors.

The millennial generation knows how to take advantage of technology to get the best quality for the best price. They’re masters at showrooming, finding what they need in brick-and-mortar stores and then searching for the best deals online. Millennials are adept at finding discounts, using coupons and getting free shipping.

Branding is important to millennials, but price sometimes overshadows it. A meaningful loyalty program often helps them overcome concerns about higher priced brands. Millennials consider options carefully before they’re willing to spend their money. They’re not likely to buy into flashy, self-promotional ads. If you want to earn millennial trust, you have to be authentic.

I’ve also learned that millennials are social media mavens. Social media ads, comments and reviews highly influence them, especially when the ads are relevant. When they have a great experience with a product or service, they’re happy to let their peers know about it on social media. The same is also true if they have a negative experience.

Understand what does and doesn’t work when marketing to millennials.

Before I discuss marketing strategies that do work for millennials, I want to review what doesn’t work: showy online ads for the random sale of the week. Such ads are too irrelevant and impersonal to attract the Gen Y consumer’s attention. Marketers can use better approaches to motivate them to stop scrolling and start clicking.

Millennials have caught on to the idea that most stores will price match, so they have come to expect it. If a millennial holds up a cellphone boasting a competitor ad for the same product or service that you’re offering, be prepared to offer the same deal.

They’re an entrepreneurial population that takes delight in supporting local businesses. They’ve been brought up learning about things like global warming and preserving natural resources. As a result, they’re committed to preserving the world’s natural resources. Businesses that actively support and promote a greener economy will get millennials to take a breather from scrolling and learn more about what the company has to offer.

Millennials won’t be caught without multiple mobile devices, so marketers need to ensure that their ads display clearly on all mobile devices. Digital marketers will find greater power in social media because most millennials pull it up before they brush their teeth in the morning. It’s where they go to find the best promotions and discounts. They also hit up social media when they need immediate customer service or to leave fast feedback on purchases.

If you want to get a millennial’s attention at just the right time, remarketing lists for shopping ads (RLSAs) are the way to go. These ads appear based on the pages that consumers have previously browsed. Seeing ads multiple times when they’re actively shopping creates a more personal connection. Chances are good that they’ll add the item to their shopping cart or click to get more information.

Evolve your marketing strategy as your audience evolves.

As you look toward the future of marketing, the only thing that you can be certain of is that your audience is bound to change. When you learn what makes a new generation tick, it’s far easier to evolve your marketing strategy to ignite a spark that gets them to click.


Missouri students may soon get option of free online courses

New legislation passed in Missouri means that as early as next year, public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade could have the option of taking online courses for free.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Missouri House and Senate in May approved what’s been dubbed the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program. If Gov. Eric Greitens signs it, the law could become effective next summer.

The main intent is to expand course access for high school students in small, rural or financially-troubled schools that may not be able to afford teachers in advanced courses such as chemistry, Chinese or creative writing.

Under the new program, the school district or charter school would pick up the tab, not the student’s family.

“Having this course access kind of gets rid of the education by ZIP code and opens up a wide variety of classes for all the students,” said state Rep. Bryan Spencer, a Wentzville Republican and former teacher who led the proposal in the House.

Students could sidestep traditional schools completely, though a report last year raised concerns about the performance of full-time virtual students. The report by the National Education Policy Center found that only about 37 percent of full-time virtual schools in the U.S. received acceptable performance ratings, and the average graduation rate was 43 percent.

Susan Goldammer, associate executive director with the Missouri School Boards’ Association, cited concern that the program “will morph into virtual charter schools, where students aren’t students of the public school at all. Students can just enroll in it directly and the online provider will collect state aid.”

Missouri already has a statewide virtual school. The Missouri Virtual Instruction Program was established in 2007. But only “medically fragile” students and students who attend school in provisionally accredited or unaccredited districts can take MoVIP classes for free.

Because MoVIP is dependent on state funding, enrollment has been limited. Just 550 students from fewer than three dozen districts were enrolled in MoVIP in the recently-concluded school year.

Schools and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would be tasked with ensuring the quality of online classes. The state would publish an annual report showing student outcome data.A student’s request to enroll in the online school could be denied if doing so “is not in the best educational interest of the student.” Appeals would go to the local school board, then the state.


Brazil must act fast to fix ‘unsustainable’ finances, minister warns

Eduardo Guardia calls for urgent fiscal reforms to avoid return to recession and unrest

Brazil’s new government will have a limited opportunity to enact urgent fiscal reforms or face the risk of a return to recession and social unrest, the outgoing finance minister has told the Financial Times.

“The situation is unsustainable,” Eduardo Guardia said in an interview in London. “It will be a bumpy road and a short one, because they do not have much time.”

But Mr Guardia said he was “realistically optimistic” that changes to Brazil’s deficit-ridden pensions system would be enacted in time to avoid a bad outcome after the far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro and a new congress take office on January 1.

“There is execution risk, but the direction is right,” he said. “They have a chance to do well.”

Successive governments have tried but failed to address Brazil’s pensions problem, the main cause of a budget deficit equal to more than 7 per cent of gross domestic product.

The current government of President Michel Temer, in office since the leftwing Dilma Rousseff was impeached in August 2016, has presented two reform proposals to congress.

Mr Guardia said the first would save about R$800bn ($215bn, more than 10 per cent of GDP) over the course of 10 years. A second, watered-down version, already approved by congressional committees, would save R$650bn over that period. Both would require three-fifths majorities in both houses of congress to make the required changes to Brazil’s constitution.

“The first version is better but the second would still have a meaningful impact,” Mr Guardia said.

Future ministers have also proposed making limited changes that would not require constitutional amendments and could be enacted before the Temer administration leaves office or, alternatively, ditching the Temer proposals to come up with a new plan. Mr Guardia said the former would be of little use on its own while the latter carried the risk that, “if we start all over again, one year from now we will be back where we are”.

The danger of delay was that falling investment and rising borrowing costs, as investors lost confidence in the new government, would tip the country back into recession. Output has barely recovered from the recession of 2015-2016 and is expected to grow by less than 1.4 per cent this year.

“The difference last time was that the recession started from full employment,” Mr Guardia said. “Today, there are 12.5m unemployed.”

Failure to deliver reforms and growth would also undermine Mr Bolsonaro’s main campaign promise, of tackling the surge in violent crime that accompanied Brazil’s economic collapse.

Brazil election: captain of industry

Mr Bolsonaro has promised to make it easier for citizens to own and carry guns, to lower the age of criminal responsibility, to put more people in prison for longer, and to give police greater impunity from prosecution if they kill suspects in the line of duty.

Mr Guardia said such policies were unlikely to solve increasing crime, which would best be tackled by growth and rising employment.

Despite the polarisation and truculence that has characterised public and political life before and since last month’s elections, Mr Guardia said Brazil’s centrist political parties, which did particularly badly at the polls, should support the new government’s reform plans.

“We all have to get on side,” Mr Guardia said. “We all know what will happen if the reforms are not done.


EU regulators monitor big tech’s financial services foray

Olli Rehn, governor of Finland’s central bank, says the issue of big tech’s encroachment into the financial sector has prompted ‘a very lively discussion’ © Reuters

European financial regulators are discussing whether to supervise big technology companies more closely in response to recent moves into financial services by groups such as Amazon and Google, according to one of Europe’s most senior central bankers.

Olli Rehn, governor of Finland’s central bank and a member of the European Central Bank’s governing council, said the issue of big tech’s encroachment into the financial sector had prompted “a very lively discussion by financial supervisors and central banks in Europe”.

His comments on Sunday at the Financial Times Middle East Banking Forum in Dubai will be welcomed by many senior bankers who have been complaining about the uneven playing field as they worry about competing head-on with big tech groups.

They could also signal a new front in the tussle between European authorities and US tech groups, which are already being subjected to intense scrutiny by EU competition authorities and moves to extract more tax from their European operations.

When asked whether the ECB was considering regulating big tech groups that have moved into financial services, Mr Rehn said: “We see big tech is moving in there,” adding that it was “currently a matter for discussion among financial supervisors”.

The Finnish central banker, who was previously vice-president of the EU commission with responsibility for economic and monetary affairs, also warned that banks would have to overhaul their balance sheets to adjust for the risks of climate change.

Describing climate change as “the biggest market failure of all time” he said banks would have to take account of factors such as rising sea levels, extreme weather events, changing rainfall patterns and mass migrations in assessing the risks on their balance sheets.

“For a banker or any financial institution, climate change poses physical risks, such as extreme weather . . . and the debt servicing ability of a borrower or their credit quality may be affected,” he said.

But Mr Rehn’s comments on the potential for regulating big tech groups are likely to grab most attention in the banking sector.

The introduction this year of “open banking” regulation, forcing EU lenders to provide access to accounts of customers who authorise it, has left many top bankers worrying that large US and Chinese tech groups will cherry-pick the best parts of their business while escaping the burden of regulation.

Big US tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple have been expanding into payments and other financial services. Chinese tech groups Alibaba and Tencent have already taken a dominant share of their country’s retail payments market.

Financial regulators on both sides of the Atlantic have already turned their attention to the cloud, as concerns mount over how to supervise online storage services, which hold information from the world’s biggest banks. Cloud services are used by banks to store customer-account data and their banking systems on servers hosted by big tech groups.

As well as cyber risk, regulators ‎are worried about concentrating so much information in the hands of Amazon, Google and Microsoft — the three big companies that dominate cloud provision — without the same level of supervisory oversight as banks.

The Bank of England is considering whether to test banks’ resilience, analysing what would happen if access to the cloud were disrupted. The BoE’s Prudential Regulation Authority is also expected to publish more detailed thinking on the subject as a prelude to possible regulation.

Meanwhile in the US, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is reviewing banks’ relationships with third-party vendors, including cloud providers. EU watchdogs have also had discussions with tech groups and asked to see commercial agreements with banks


PCF Bank partners with Code Investing to provide vehicle finance to SMEs


PCF Bank has partnered with Code Investing to provide vehicle finance to SMEs.

The agreement will allow PCF to have direct lending access to SMEs that require hire purchase and leasing finance to help them acquire a range of business-critical assets through Code Investing’s panel of funders.

The focus will be on SMEs whose investment plans meet pre-determined criteria set by PCF.

Ayan Mitra, CEO and founder of Code Investing, added: “Our role will be to act as a filter for PCF, presenting them only with pre-qualified companies that meet their criteria.

“As they increase their market share, this will ensure their growing portfolio is fully optimised and de-risked.”

PCF has been supporting the UK SME sector for almost 25 years by providing finance to help businesses acquire a wide range of vehicles and equipment such as commercial vehicles, coaches, construction equipment and manufacturing equipment.

It currently has a portfolio of more than £200 million of finance receivables spread across over 14,350 customers.

Robert Murray, managing director of PCF, added: “We see partnerships like this one as key to the development of our business as we look to grow our portfolio from its current levels to £350m by September 2020 and £750m by September 2022.”