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How ICOs may survive the advertising prohibition era

As ICOs have become the pariah of the advertising industry blockchain companies will have to find an alternative way of promoting their products. And in a marketing world where content is no longer king, startups can capitalize on the new ruler — community.

The first quarter of 2018 has been anything but good for the crypto market. With a massive bear market we’ve seen market values of most cryptocurrencies plummet by 50 percent or more. The SEC has gone after numerous, albeit small, cryptocurrency companies and some companies have gone the way of Bitconnect, which imploded in January under suspicion of being a ponzi scheme.

And other players continue to add to the woes.

With the recent announcement of Mailchimp banning all ICO and cryptocurrency-related activities on its platform, it would seem there’s a consensus among major media and tech companies — Facebook, Twitter, Google included — to oppose the dissemination of digital assets.

We have entered a period of growing pressure and volatility that companies hoping to issue ICOs will have to navigate carefully if they are to emerge on the other side. Here’s how they could do it.

Advertising on media platforms is just one factor among many

The prohibition of advertising on large platforms does create problems for the growing ICO market. After all, Google, Facebook and Twitter command the vast majority of advertising  revenue online. And while it’s easy to try and dismiss advertising as gimmicky, let’s not make any mistakes. Advertising works.

But it is wise to remember that it is only oneimplement in the toolkit of connecting with customers and building support for your brand. As Elon Musk of Tesla has openly said “we don’t do advertising” — and his companies have taken off to the moon, literally.

The advertising ban on large platforms means that if an ICO wants to pursue advertising as a main method of connecting with potential customers they will need to become well versed in their strategy. This is a good thing.

With increased complexity, potentially higher costs, and clearer targeting strategies needed, the ICO market will tighten up — leaving many sketchy ICO’s out of the picture. In Tesla fashion, should a blockchain startup not leverage the power of strategic advertising, focusing on making great products may help drive its ICO value far more than advertising would.

In either case, most questionable blockchain companies will not pursue either.

Content is no longer king

Content’s reign in the marketing throne is over but that doesn’t mean it is no longer relevant.

Content has evolved to become a multi-faceted, multi-skilled ‘knight in shining armor’. With written, video and audio content, leveraging content of all forms in the current environment has become one of the primary methods of garnering support and funding for an idea in any industry.

Herein lies opportunity.

Creating an engaging stream of relevant, targeted content is hard. Great ICO’s and the underlying blockchain startups that fuel them, will have to double down on content creation. Mediocre and poor ICOs will not.

Thus content, if used correctly, will help forge a path to connecting and growing a blockchain’s growing list of supporters.

Community has the throne

In the cryptocurrency world – community has replaced content as king. To growing and established legitimate blockchain companies this comes as no surprise.

Like them or not, Bitcoin and Ethereum both started with small, albeit very strong communities that took years and years to build. This was before they had achieved any type of significant market value.

New blockchain companies looking to pursue capital through the ICO market may take note. Great communities are — just like content — are hard to create. They take time, effort, and require constant engagement.

But the returns are significant. The community drives product improvement and can contribute to its design (in the case of open source projects). The community volunteers share and market the message that they believe in. The community funds the idea. They, not advertising, are the driving force behind any great ICO.

Future progress will require that blockchain companies increasingly focus on development and engagement with their community.

What the future holds

One thing that seems clear is that the cryptocurrency world is in for years of external pressure and change.

Every year the list of impediments grows as government regulation, media bans, lawsuits, pressure from institutional players, scams and schemes all shape the future of the industry.

But with community on the throne, and content by its side, the best of the blockchain startups will welcome the pressure.


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