Bringing Together Blockchain, eCommerce and Content

Blockchain, ecommerce and content can all work together to create a more efficient online marketing process. Here's what to know.

September 6, 2018
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If you’re a content creator, you’re probably a little tired of hearing the phrase “content is king.” That’s because even if you create a stellar piece of content, you don’t always get paid for what it’s worth. Imagine your content generates thousands or even millions of impressions, clicks, and conversions, and the data doesn’t lie. With this form of ecommerce and content, Your content truly is king. You, however, do not necessarily earn as much as you would expect because of this thing called the middleman, which takes a cut.

The Internet Middleman

The middleman is synonymous with internet centralization. The middleman platform doesn’t create the content, nor does it create the product that the content is trying to sell, it merely facilitates a transaction. Blockchain can facilitate a transaction and provide more power to content creators through a decentralized model.

According to Western Governors University, blockchain is emerging as a game-changer for the future of business, with applications not only at the cryptocurrency level, but at all transactional levels. Let’s see how the gears are turning for blockchain, eCommerce, and content.

E-Commerce and Content Marketing

For any eCommerce endeavor, content marketing starts with data, either proprietary or third-party data. According to Appnovation, content marketing strategy entails the following:

  • Get as much data on users as you can
  • Create user personas based on data
  • Customize and create content aimed at each persona

There are multiple centralized platforms that come into play here. Marketing departments use Google, Facebook, and other data-based companies to get actionable user data. Then they have to create a ton of content based around that data if they want to bring users directly to their online store.

Why content?

The reason for all this content is simple: you can apply for a Google merchant account, but another merchant will probably beat you out by selling their product on Amazon and doing content marketing to increase their brand visibility on Google.

That being the case, many eCommerce merchants need both the Amazon and the Google platforms to attract customers. Furthermore, creating enough content to stay competitive is hard, which is why there are platforms like Upwork or Freelancer that link merchants to content creators.

Unless you hunt down a content marketer yourself, you pay them through a middleman as well, and the middleman – which is another kind of eCommerce platform – takes a chunk of the change.

What about cybersecurity?

Throughout all this there’s the question of cybersecurity at each data transaction juncture. When it comes to payments to creators, E-billing provides a system of record (SOR), but it routes payments through centralized servers, which leaves those records vulnerable to data breaches.

The question is could blockchain transform the paradigm, in which middlemen profit and cybersecurity is always questionable due to massive centralization of records.

Where Blockchain Steps In

When it comes to cybersecurity and payments, The Next Web‘s David Geer notes that, “The blockchain ensures that both sides of the transaction are transparent and incorruptible, allowing all parties involved peace of mind before, during, and after the transactions.” Therefore, content creators could bill merchants on the blockchain and be sure their records won’t be breached.

Furthermore, content creators can benefit because blockchain allows them to take back control.

Merchants can benefit because blockchain will allow them to stop paying middlemen for the content they need. A merchant needs content to create brand recognition and drive customers to their store – or to their item on Amazon, in which case the content marketer earns a little bit of money as an affiliate.

Blockchain for affiliate content:

Reuben Jackson, a blockchain security specialist, points out that there’s already a blockchain solution for affiliate marketing called Attrace. While affiliate networks charge merchants anywhere from 10 to 25 percent commission, Attrace only charges about .5 percent, and it uses smart contracts to document every referral so that affiliates can’t defraud merchants by sending them fraudulent traffic. Additionally, Attrace has no merchant restrictions and provides a direct connection between merchants and publishers.

Blockchain for photographs and images:

Elsewhere, Wemark is a blockchain platform that uses smart contracts to allow photographers to license their work directly to customers. Here again, blockchain eliminates the middleman, which could be Shutterstock or Getty Images. High-quality images are a huge part of branding and sales for any e-commerce merchant. Through the blockchain, creators could upload their images and receive payment directly without waiting, while merchants could view creators’ rates, commission projects, or choose from a library of images without paying extra for the middleman.

Blockchain for social media content and website content:

Sherman Lee, founder of social media agency Good Audience, points out that content creators have a tough time making money from the content they post on social media. In other words, you can create content that promotes a brand, but the brand pays you a flat rate for the content, and you don’t necessarily get paid for what your audience does with the content.

A new social network called Steemit allows users to pay content creators in STEEM crypto tokens, which the content creators can trade in for fiat. By November of 2017, Steemit paid out $30 million to 50,000 users.

Meanwhile, Gifto – from Hong Kong-based streaming app Uplive – is a gift/payment method that works across all popular social networks. Users reward creators with gifts, which creators can exchange for GTO tokens, and then fiat. In 2017, Uplive’s gift revenue was $100 million.

Finally, Brave is a browser with which users can reward websites for content. The reward comes in the form of crypto tokens called BAT, and websites remove ads for the user in exchange for the tokens.

Blockchain Can Do It All

Mckinsey gets into depth about how blockchain and smart contracts can help creatives get paid what their work is worth, and creatives can use it to allocate digital rights. This would allow content creators to deliver more content, and quality would improve. What’s more, Next Web identifies two companies – Request Network and ECoinmerce – that are working to “create a blockchain based marketplace using fast and secure transactions for any eCommerce business model.”

Content is king because merchants need it to get the word out about their brands and offerings in a digital world that is becoming more and more averse to ads. Yet content creators don’t feel like kings and merchants are tired of dealing with the middleman. Blockchain platforms can and will step in to help both sides get what they need out of the relationship.