NEW YORK: Blockchain solutions could help marketers head off a potential equivalent to the “subprime mortgage crisis” in the digital data market, according to Rolfe Swinton, the director/data assets for North America at research firm GfK.

“I would argue that, potentially, we are facing our own version of a subprime mortgage crisis,” Swinton said on a WARC webinar co-hosted with GreenBook. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Can blockchain technology help marketing avoid a subprime mortgage moment?)

The mortgage crash of 2007–10 followed, in large part, from a lack of trust in the packages of home loans that were sold on financial markets, often with little insight regarding the specific contents of a given bundle.

“I think we’re starting to see similar problems in [the marketing] business when we think about questions around data,” Swinton explained.

“We are seeing issues where there is more fraud creeping in to people trying to commit fraud around consumer data.”

One promising remedy for this issue, Swinton argued, is blockchain technology – a system that has itself come under scrutiny thanks to worries surrounding Bitcoin, the controversial cryptocurrency it was originally developed to support.

But separating out the pipes from the financial product, for Swinton, could have substantial benefits due to the way blockchain offerings work.

This technology constructs a real-time ledger that is instantly modified whenever a transaction is made, data is exchanged, and so on. And this information is stored across a peer-to-peer network, meaning there is no single gatekeeper.

And the advantages this technology could supply include authenticating the identity and source of data, tracking assets from creation to use, crafting a stronger value exchange between brands and consumers, and increasing accountability.

“It’s an infrastructure on which other things can be built. By its nature, it is decentralised. It is self-owned and it is self-controlled. It’s a ledger of assets and of transactions,” said Swinton.

“It’s distributed across anyone who’s participating in that particular blockchain. And those multiple copies around the world are what helps render it tamper-proof.”

Find out more about how Blockchain technology is moving into the marketing and market research space in this WARC webinar, co-hosted with Greenbook: Blockchain in 2018: Challenges and Opportunities for Marketers.

Sourced from WARC