Ads In The Age Of Cryptocurrency

Paul Ford ponders how new currencies like Bitcoin might actually make us appreciate online advertising:

Advertisers pay to reach highly valued online audiences; they use a variety of technologies, many surprisingly ineffective, to find these individuals. Could cryptocurrencies help? [Digital advertising and finance analyst Larry] Smith asks us to consider the following scenario: imagine a brand like Dunkin’ Donuts that wanted to create a loyalty program. Now imagine that brand creating its own currency: DunkinDollars. Finally, imagine an online advertising campaign where people who clicked on an advertisement would be given the virtual coins. Small amounts of money might be distributed without friction. If large brands could create their own currencies and allow individuals to participate in this marketplace, they could create consumers who were truly invested, in every sense.

The entire web of advertising would suddenly become a more interesting place. Before, the ads seemed to hunt you, but now you would have reason to hunt for ads. The coins you earned could then be exchanged for branded goods, but they could also be exchanged on an open market, like a kind of penny stock. “Pay consumers for clicks and acquisitions,” says Smith, defining this new kind of model.