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What Do CMOs Need To Know About Blockchain? ‘It Could Put You Out Of Business’

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In this CMO Lunch Briefing, hosted by Kochava, SMWNYC attendees heard from two leading experts on the subject of Blockchain and how it is going to transform marketing.

If you’re like the majority of Americans, you’ve probably heard of the blockchain, but have no idea what it really “is.”

That’s okay: Even the experts sometimes sound like they’re making it up as they go along. At one point during a Social Media Week New York panel discussion on “What CMOs Need To Know About Blockchain,” Kiip CEO Brian Wong described it as “a chain of blocks.” Thanks for the help. (He was kidding.)

Blockchain has captured massive attention due to the perplexing yet up-and-down value of virtual currency Bitcoin. Blockchain is a decentralized ledger and database where Bitcoin transactions can take place with more security and transparency than with traditional third-party middlemen like banks.

Because of a lack of widespread, concrete understanding of what blockchain technology is, many of us assume that it still isn’t relevant for the vast majority of businesses. Not true, according to Wong and his panel partner, Kochava founder and CEO Charles Manning.

“You stand to greatly benefit by being the first-mover, and greatly disadvantaged if you wait,” Manning said.

What should any good CMO, or business leader in general, know about blockchain? The main takeaway is that blockchain is here, now, and ready to be utilized. Here’s what else was discussed.

Blockchain technology is a lot like cloud computing

Not to confuse you further, but blockchain is a bit like another bit of technology that you’ll have a hard time explaining to your grandmother. Blockchain isn’t cloud computing, but the analogy is solid.

“Just because your company uses the cloud doesn’t mean you’re a cloud company. Same with blockchain. If you use it, you’re not a blockchain company,” said Wong.

Meaning: You don’t have to necessarily be a tech company or startup to benefit from using blockchain, even at this (relatively early) stage. Whether you use Amazon or Google for your cloud, you still probably use it to communicate and collaborate with peers and employees. Today, there are many private blockchains you could similarly tap into.

There’s no turning back now

Trust is huge. That’s true in life. It’s also true with blockchain.

One of the biggest selling points of the technology is that it’s impossible to have two of the same coin. When something happens, there’s no way to change the data that’s been there, which is the problem with the more opaque business models we have today, where ad partners need to duplicate and verify impressions with every transaction. There’s little trust there, and it’s costly.

“We’re not saying this is a solve-all, but if implemented it will make a ton of value, and we should accept its inevitability,” said Wong. “Blockchain and advertising together is an inevitability.”

Not moving on this could be deadly

Kochava builds measurement and attribution technology for advertisers. Kiip is a rewards platform for mobile apps. Neither of these companies, to reiterate the point above, are “blockchain” companies. What inspired their CEOs to become blockchain experts in their space?

“There are already many live projects, private blockchains, where people are leveraging this technology within their companies today to implement this,” said Wong. “It could put you out of business. We realize that if we don’t get ahead of this, we could be out of business. If we can disintermediate ourselves and grow that ecosystem and gain from growing that system, we can grow ourselves for the future.”

Don’t get blinded by a flashy ICO

People seem to mix up blockchain with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the wealth of other coins, particularly those that have a flashy initial coin offering, or ICO. When asked if there was a canonical list of blockchains that businesses could investigate, Manning issued a warning.

“The challenge is, most in the industry that so many are excited about these technologies that they won’t assess what’s real and what’s concept. If you looked at the history of the source of ICO drops, the challenge is that people are using ICOs as a funding exercise with little ability to execute. They get funded, and over the next year they raise so money that there’s no compelling event that will make them go out of business right away.”

To get more clarity, clear out the people who talk about concepts or tokens that aren’t yet real. There are ways to glean value from blockchain technology without a token, from being able to clearly track your assets on a supply chain to no longer duplicating your ledger when dealing with third parties.

You should probably get somebody young and passionate on this one

No offense: You’re probably young at heart if you’re not young on paper. But according to Wong, you probably have people at your company already who have put a lot of thought into this.

“There are most likely folks in your company that are younger that are really into this stuff, that have already thought this to smithereens. Because they’ve been living and breathing this for the last few years, bring them in,” he said.

If this seems like a dire warning call that you’re not ready to heed, don’t worry. Everything in this space resets “every month or so.” But if you’re wondering whether to look into what blockchain can do for you, stop wondering. It’s time for doing.

Kochava is the industry leader for mobile app attribution and mobile app analytics. We enable top brands to harness their data for growth.

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