How Soon Will Blockchain’s Privacy and Permanence Bring New Techniques to Communications Measurement?

The short answer: Not for several years.

After seeing Kodak’s stock rise 120% on the news that it was coming out with a blockchain-based security system for images, the highly respected NPR show “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal quipped that they were changing their name to “Market-Blockchain-Place” and issuing “Ryssdollars.” For another example of the business world’s eagerness to take advantage of this new technology, just this week LegalFling announced that they’d use blockchain as the basis for an app to verify mutual consent prior to sexual relations.

So yes, blockchain is all the rage these days. It has intriguing possibilities for marketing and media, as beautifully outlined by Phil Gomes. He also provides a nice introduction to the technology, if you’d like to get up to speed quickly.

Mr. Gomes and a number of others seem sure that blockchain will disrupt our comfy corner of the marketing world. It probably will disrupt some measurement methods sometime in the future, but don’t hold your breath. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a huge fan of Phil Gomes for more than a decade, and I’m sure he’s right. I’ve read his paper twice and am starting to think he may have a point.

I just don’t think that the majority of communications professionals are even close to cozying up to the concept. It certainly offers greater security for communicating information, and may enable sharing of data that is currently impossible. But for now, for the typical PR person, it’s too much technology, coming too fast, and at too much expense.

The problem with most promising new technologies — including blockchain, identity tracking, and AI-enabled predictive analytics — is that our profession is hard to disrupt. Remember that a bunch of us got together nearly a decade ago to try and wean our industry off AVEs and on to viable alternative measures. Yet, according to multiple surveys of our industry, somewhere around 20% of people still report them and most measurement firms still haven’t kicked the AVE habit.

The #1 reason cited for the continued use of AVEs is that they are easy to explain to senior leadership. So if PR organizations can’t even manage to transmit the message about AVE, then how is anyone going to argue for adopting blockchain as the way to the perfect measurement system? ∞

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Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.