A Blockchain Solution to Advertising in Social Media

We all have our favorite most memorable commercials and ad campaigns from over the years. Some people may love the tear-jerkers, like when Peter comes home for Christmas and the visit was just that much better with Folgers in their cups.

Some like the ones they can relate to. Maybe their dad is the most interesting man in the world. Or, they always wondered if mom had an easy button.

What parent doesn't dream of a visit from the grandparents so they can hightail it out of town because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas as poor unsuspecting grandpas everywhere cry out, "Don't leave me with the babies!"

Maybe it's the silly ones that continue to make you laugh, like the versatile Snuggie that keeps you cozy. Perhaps the motivational ones where they get you to Think Differently and Just Do It grab your attention. Whatever draws you in, it's okay to Have it Your Way because You're Worth it and I'm Lovin it.

Like many industries, advertising has struggled with the rapid development of technology and the inclusion of social media in our everyday lives. Intrusive ads and privacy concerns created negative attitudes towards ads but it wasn't always that way.

How did this iconic part of our lives get started? How has it changed over the years? And how are we going to capture future memories with new ads that will resonate with individual communities for years to come? It's time to make the donuts and talk about the state of advertising. 

"Got Adverts?"

According to Britannica, "advertisements are the techniques and practices used to bring products, services, opinions, or causes to public notice for the purpose of persuading the public to respond in a certain way toward what is advertised."

When advertisers create messages around a product or service they are trying to motivate the viewer to respond, to use, or buy what they are advertising. To get people to see and react to an advertisement it must rise above the already crowded attention of everyday life.

Advertising has been around longer than anyone might think. The first documented written advert appeared in 3000 BC and served double duty. An Egyptian slave owner requested the capture and return of an escaped slave and included the slave owner's rug business which advertised his storefront to bring in traffic into the store.

The Gladiators themselves were even advertised on the walls of Pompeii.

"Thirty pairs of gladiators provided by Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius quinquennial duumvir, together with their substitutes, will fight at Pompeii on November 24, 25, 26. There will be a hunt. Hurrah for Maius the Quinquennial! Bravo, Paris!"

Trademarks entered the fray during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618--907 AD) when authorities required salespeople to sign a trademark to their products so that the products were easily identifiable and monitored.

"Reach Out and Spam Someone"

An interesting side note. Spam may seem like a newer phenomenon however, it has been around since the medieval period when book production was still handwritten by artists. An example of the practice was detailed on the site Medieval Books and recounts one such instance,

 "... a scribe who calls himself Herneis. On the last page of a book he had copied for a client he wrote the following note: 'If someone else would like such a handsome book, come and look me up in Paris, across the Notre Dame cathedral'. The message 'lured' the beholder to the book street of medieval Paris, right opposite the cathedral."

Giesen, Universitätsbibliothek, 945 (advertisement in book)

Modern advertising really started to take off with the invention of Gutenberg's mechanical printing press in 1439. With its invention and use, the number of printed books in Europe grew from a few million to nearly one billion copies over the following 400 years. From there, newspapers began to carry advertisements and by the 18th-century adverts were a force to be reckoned with.

As print advertising was having its heyday, radio was making itself heard. In 1922, the first radio advertisement was a 10-minute broadcast representing the carefree life at Hawthorne Court Apartments in Jackson Heights, Queens, an apartment complex in the suburbs.

The next advancement in advertisement came with television. The first television advertisement aired in 1941 and was just 10 seconds long. The message? "America runs on Bulova time."

From there, our interaction with advertisements would have far-reaching effects. The "Golden Age of Advertising" from the 1960s to 1980s not only produced some of our most memorable ads but transformed the art of advertising into a real science with teams of psychologists, focus groups, and researchers.

The internet and social media once again changed the face of advertising; a change that had people questioning best practices for privacy, targeting, and data harvesting. Digital advertising saw its own growth from static ads to dynamic and interactive advertisements. Google's advertising revenue was more than $134 billion in 2019 and accounts for nearly 71% of Google's total revenue. Facebook revenue in 2019 was nearly $70 billion. This rapid growth hasn't produced an ideal environment for the advertiser or consumer. Advertising in the age of the internet is broken, consistently ruining the consumer's online experience.

"Everywhere You Want To Be"

According to a USC blog in Applied Psychology, in the 1970s, people were exposed to about 500 ads per day. Now that number has increased 10 fold to about 5,000 ads per day. Modern advertising takes on many formats including:

  • Print Advertising- Tried and true but lacks the analytics that comes with digital ads

  • Billboards and Public Transit Ads- Primarily for brand awareness

  • TV Commercials-Been around since TV, wide reach, multi-sensory, expensive

  • Radio- Powerful for local and regional adverts. Podcasting is effective for national ads

  • Internet/Social Media- Social media sites prioritize ads over content for more revenue effectively ruining the internet experience.

"Once They Pop, You Want Them To Stop."

Seeing so many ads every day has had its negative effects. To put it frankly, people hate ads. Pop-ups and the weird "coincidences" of seeing ads related to real-life conversations in our social media feeds feel intrusive and creepy. That intrusive factor is increasing rapidly with 91% of people saying ads are more intrusive today than two years ago.

People hate pop-up ads the most with 73% of consumers giving them the thumbs down. The most cited reason? People are busy. When they sit down to shop, research, or just grab some browsing time they are inundated with disruptive pop-ups. Pop-ups come between the content and the consumer.

Imagine you sit down to read the latest news story and an ad pops up. You close the ad and try to start reading again. When the next ad pops up, you have to, yet again, refocus. The cycle continues until you say never mind and close the article.

That's not good. Four out of five people report that they will leave a web page due to a pop-up or a video automatically playing and 70% of people say they have a lower opinion of brands that engage in pop-up ads. With numbers like this, you have to wonder why the practice persists.

"Just Block It" 

To mitigate the intrusion of pop-ups, people have turned to ad-blocking services. According to HubSpot there have been 500 million downloads worldwide of AdBlockPlus, and it's estimated that ad-blocking will cost publishers $35 billion per year by 2020.

Even though people are using ad blockers on a large scale most people, 77%, would prefer a filtering service over completely blocking the ad.

Given that advertising has been around in one form or another since 3000 BC it makes sense that 83% of people say not all ads are bad. Viewers just want ads to be good and memorable and not disruptive and intrusive.

It may be controversial to say but well-placed, well-executed, ads are not only ok but are necessary. Without ads, we wouldn't know of new inventions or products. Bold ideas would be hard-pressed to make their way to our conscious and into our homes without advocates for those ideas.

"What's In Your Advert?"

Advertisers have used decades of analytics to fine-tune a successful formula when crafting engaging memorable ads. According to Hubspot, ads should make an emotional appeal to entice people to take the desired action. They need to make you want to do something about what you are seeing. That could be because you empathize or because you are angered. The emotion does not matter. It's the action that the advertiser seeks. 

"An Advert Never Goes Out Of Style."

Ads used to be fun. Catchy jingles and slogans that you grew up with still stick in your head today. Considerable has a nice list of 35 of its most memorable ads. Lists like this are always subjective but maybe you will be like Mikey and like it.

Today, outside of the Superbowl, the same types of creative engaging ads are lacking. So what is the disconnect? Advertisers have analytical data to compose really amazing ads yet people are increasingly frustrated. Advertisers are left to the business of advertising instead of making ads with staying power. 

The Business of Advertising

There is more to advertising than the composition of the actual ad. Advertising is a business. Whether it's through an ad agency or the brand is crafting its own ads, brands have to deal with issues such as privacy, increasing costs, fraud, and the fight to be seen.

The rapid growth of a digital world put 4.5 billion active users online quickly and provided a huge arena for advertisers to target. When Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others realized the potential of ad revenue, businesses had to start paying to get their products seen. And in doing so hope their positioning ended up being what they paid for.

Google uses something called the ad auction. The ad auction uses an algorithm that "decides which ads will appear and in which order". Each ad is given an ad rank that contains "your bids, the quality of your ads, and website, the Ad Rank thresholds, the context of the person's search, as well as the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats". These components will determine when and who sees ads.

These practices are detrimental to businesses and advertisers have to find smarter ways to advertise.

Blockchain Solutions in Advertising

It's believed blockchain will make a substantial impact on the business of advertising as it is the ideal solution to the problems advertising currently faces. Well known browser, Brave, aims to improve the browsing experience by removing pop-ups and giving people a choice on whether to watch ads or not. Brave rewards consumers with BAT tokens for viewing ads.

Beyond rewards, putting advertising data on-chain allows advertisers to reconcile transactions and provide immutable proof that an event took place. Dragonchain's user-friendly platform allows advertisers to quickly implement their own blockchain with just three clicks. Advertisers can then use our patented interoperability technology, Interchain, to connect to any business system to track ad viewership. Ad campaigns could finally quantify their success in real-time with end-to-end transparency and decreased fraud.

In 2016, Facebook was sued by advertisers who said the social media site reported ad viewing times to be 900 percent over actual data. This inflated metric convinced advertisers to purchase more ad time with Facebook.

How'd they get duped? Advertisers don't have direct access to the data coming from social media sites and thus don't know if their ads are truly effective. Ad vendors like Facebook, Twitter, or Google report on the traffic from an ad to the advertiser. There is no assurance that data from the vendors is an accurate representation of an ad's engagement. A 2018 report from Juniper Research found that fraudulent activities will account for an estimated $19 billion next year and rise to $44 billion by 2022.

Smart Contracts and Real-Time Tracking

A blockchain-based advertising system will employ smart contracts to track ads and pay for only verified impressions as stipulated in the contract. Meeting the requirements of the smart contract can then trigger payments to be distributed to interested parties all without the need for intermediaries. When the workflow needs to be adjusted, Dragonchain's patented smart contract orchestration allows advertisers and vendors to do so without starting from scratch.

Regulatory Proof

Standardized guidelines outlining the ad verification process all ads go through before release can be loaded into a smart contract. Laws and regulations can accompany the guidelines to mitigate liabilities to advertisers and vendors. This automation can reduce the role of third-party platforms in the verification process.

Certain businesses must file annual reports to the SEC that contain advertising and marketing data including financials. Publicly traded companies have to prove they are not engaging in any misleading adverts. Dragonchain's Proof Systems can help businesses prove what ads went out and when in the event of an audit or when filing annual reports.

Real-Time Engagement Data

With the use of a blockchain solution, advertisers will have real-time engagement data to better tune future advertisements. Advertisers can know what is working, what is not working, and make adjustments along the way. Advertisers can further apply the results of engagement metrics through loyalty rewards and incentivization for viewers or even vendors with the use of Dragonchain's patented loyalty and rewards system.

Since vendors are setting the frequency rate of what ads are shown and when digital ads tend to feel stale. The loyalty system also allows advertisers to analyze on-chain data for drops in viewership and other metrics. This puts the ad frequency in the hands of the advertisers to keep the message fresh. Data analytics can assist in better targeting for ad delivery, targeting the right audience, and not advertising to the wrong people. Blockchain will help advertisers set rules for the adverts and then find that audience.

Combat Fraud

Fake ads can open brands, vendors, and viewers up to data breaches. These imposter ads can be mitigated through blockchain's transparent and trackable capabilities. Dragonchain's hybrid architecture allows for transparent tracking without exposing any private data. The platform could help limit the liabilities of the brand and the vendor by proving the authenticity of the ads. 

Be more creative.

Using blockchain to tackle some of the issues facing the business of advertising can provide a path to reviving creativity in advertising. In a NYT article on the problems facing the advertising industry, Chuck McBride, founder of Cutwater a creative agency focusing on brand strategy, said that changes in the industry would allow companies to express their creativity as they experiment with increasingly personalized advertising. "The gloom and doom is greatly exaggerated," he said. "Things are really messed up, but there's opportunity in this."

Opportunity, indeed, or better yet in Den.

The focus should be on creating ads for smaller segments of an audience and adjusting those ads to the specific needs of the individuals. When the right ads are put in front of the right people at the right time and in the right place, the ads are more likely to get the desired engagement.

An unintended consequence of rewarding people to view ads is that the rewards become more akin to payments. People don't often consider that showing an ad to consumers who have no intention of benefitting from that ad is not an optimal use of the advertiser's resources. The goal should be to create a content-based delivery system where the consumer actually wants to see the ad content. Instead, an environment has been created where people click on every ad for a few tokens.

Den provides an environment for advertisers to establish a relationship with their viewers. In Den, brands learn what their audience wants or needs and they are better able to target their ads in such a way that better serves that audience. Not only is the viewer rewarded for engaging in well-placed ads but the advertiser also benefits.

The perfect ad is not an ad.

It is the philosophical belief of Den that any sufficiently targeted advertisement will be seen as quality content by its viewers.

The advertising system within Den is designed to incentivize the advertiser to provide better content for the community they are advertising to. Brands are increasingly using native advertising across all advertising platforms and Den does the same but with a twist.

According to Copyblogger, native advertising is paid content that matches a publication's editorial standards while meeting the audience's expectations. The ads blend into the surroundings matching the look and feel of other online content. As customers understand the need for and welcome ads, native ads strike a good balance for both brands and customers.

Getting Started

To advertise on Den an advertiser or brand would make an account in Den and then subscribe to the Lairs in which they would like to engage. Advertisers should become familiar with the culture of the individual Lair communities. Consider this market research. It can be exponentially more valuable than a survey. Here it's possible to see what the community really thinks of your product or service.

For example, let's say a company sells a widget. The company has good sales and thinks they are selling the product that the buyers want. The buyers, on the other hand, have some problems with the product. Sure they still buy it but they really wish it did something extra or didn't do something it already does. The company may only be aware of this through expensive market research. But by establishing a relationship within the community the company can get valuable first-hand feedback without the added expense.

Den uses a market-based approach to ad visualization. As an advertiser, you get rewarded for ads that perform well by consistent positioning. Brands who publish content are susceptible to the same guidelines as the community within the individual Lairs. What sets an advertiser apart from the rest of the community is when the post is "boosted" with Matter (MTR), Den's utility token for boosting content.

The advertisement is evaluated by the community. If the content is well-received, the community will upvote the post where it will remain boosted and visible to the community. On the other hand, if the content is not well-placed the community can downvote the post and it will quickly drop from view.

Advertisers who post well-received content will have a portion of their ad spend (up to 85%) returned to their account for future ad spending or withdrawal. In addition, well-performing ads will earn MTR which can be withdrawn or used to fund the next ad. The better the ad does the less it will cost the advertiser. Alternately, with Google, the better performing ads will typically run more resulting in increased costs for the advertisers.

"You bring the content, we'll take care of the rest." Contact Den for white-glove service. 

Den is Different

Den's advertising model serves as content management in that viewers take part in evaluating ads. This can be an effective tool for advertisers to once again tap into their creative sides to reclaim those memorable ads that stick with us throughout our lives.

As advertisers get to know the audience they can craft a message that resonates with them. It's all about building a relationship within the community. The risk of stale overplayed ads is not an issue as engaging ads within Den are elevated and when the ad no longer grabs the attention of the community it naturally drops from trending view. The measure of the effectiveness of a Den ad is its position in the community feed.

Den provides a risk-averse environment as an advertiser does not need to know personally identifiable information to effectively advertise to a community. They only need to understand what makes that community "tick" and deliver creative engaging content.

Brand Ambassadors

Your customers really are your best brand ambassadors. Being part of the community establishes strong relationships between the brand and the customer. Businesses can further capitalize on native advertising within the community with micro-influencers.

Businesses can hire influencers to craft content on their behalf based on the brand's requirements, guidelines, and preferences. If the influencer's content is well received the brand simply boosts the post with MTR to increase visibility. Businesses will engage with them directly without intermediaries taking a large cut of the ad budget.

Engagement is exponential as not only are micro-influencers paid by brands directly, they also earn additional passive income from their content if it's well-received. The brand or influencer is incentivized to create well-placed creative content to promote the brand.

The Lair community is also incentivized to evaluate and share the quality content they discover on Den to other social media platforms as engagement drivers help to further the brand's reach and keep the community engaged.

Lairs for You 

Brands can even have their own Lairs. Brands who wish to have a shared Lair can choose to participate in a monthly community-driven Lair creation process. All who participate in this option would become owners of the Lair right alongside the brand.

If the brand wishes to be the sole owner of a Lair they can purchase a Lair through the business-to-business option. This gives them full control of the rules and guidelines associated with their Lair.

A brand will realize many benefits from owning its own Lair. Here they can build and engage a thriving community awarding top supporters and contributors. The Lair will also serve as an additional way to reach new audiences without directly targeting them with intrusive and expensive ads. 

"Like a Good Neighbor, Den is There"

As technological advancements continue to change the landscape, brands are looking for ways to keep consumers engaged while increasing their return on ad spend. Unlike other platforms, Den provides a platform for both. With an increased return on ad spend, advertisers who usually focus on monitoring and optimizing thousands of ads now have the time and the resources to stretch their creativity. Those tried and true formulas can once again be used and memorable ads, like the ones we all grew up with, can once again become a living, breathing part of a brand's community.

Want to start advertising on Den? "Leave the Driving to Us"