Jeremy Epstein of Never Stop Marketing: Blockchain Can Make CRM’s Future Decentralized and Disrupt Ownership of Data
I’ve known Jeremy Epstein for years going back to his days at Microsoft. But over the past couple of years he’s been one of the leading voices in the Blockchain space, working with a variety of startups focused on bringing the technology to a host of industries. So I try to touch base with him from time to time to see how things are progressing in the space and what implications are starting to emerge. And of course one of the areas I’m keeping a special interest in is how blockchain could impact CRM.
Blockchain and CRM
I recently caught up to Jeremy, and I mean literally caught up with him, as we recorded a conversation while he was walking in the forest near his home. So this was definitely a different kind of conversation, but a fun one in addition to being extremely informative and insightful. And we cover a lot of ground as Jeremy Epstein touches on the current state of Blockchain development, how the number of tech startups has grown roughly 20X over the past couple of years, the industries being impacted the most, and his future prediction of how Blockchain will disrupt CRM as we know it today.
Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the whole interview watch the video or click on the embedded SoundCloud player below.
Brent Leary: Give me a high-level, overview synopsis of where, and particularly where the enterprise and the tech enterprise… Where are they in terms of Blockchain adoption? Is this early days? Have we even begun the game yet? Just tell me where we are with it.
Jeremy Epstein: Okay, well, I’ll put this in terms that I know you can understand. We are well past kickoff, and we are into the first quarter. There’s a few points on the board, no major touchdowns, a couple field goals maybe, but the way I would substantiate that claim is as follows. Two weeks ago, we conducted what we call our Blockchain Marketing Immersion Day for OMD, as I’m sure you know, one of the world’s leading agencies. We had the entire C-suite there, top-level strategy, account planners, probably 75 people in the room for a full day, and we helped them understand, or we just shared our knowledge about, what we see happening in the intersection of Blockchain technology with the marketing function.
On top of that, we had seven curated and hand-picked vendors, who are sort of the leaders in the space. And what was really interesting to me is, at the very beginning of the day, our client sponsor there surveyed his colleagues, and he said, “How many of you have either had a conversation with your clients or have had a conversation that your clients initiated about how to potentially use Blockchain technology to reduce ads, ad fraud, increase transparency, improve billing reconciliation, improve loyalty, all types of things like that?” I would say that maybe 10% to 15% of the room put their hands up.
Now, you could say that’s not a lot, but I would say that two years ago, the answer would’ve been zero.
Brent Leary: Wow.
Jeremy Epstein: And so, the most important thing, I would say, is we’re seeing validation on the demand side from agencies, from brands. We’re talking with multiple innovation marketing leads at top-50, top-100 brands about how to use these technologies, and we’re trying to advise and help them understand the market because the second part of this story is the explosion of vendor offerings on the supply side.
We have this thing which we borrowed liberally from our mutual friend Scott Brinker (chiefmartec.com) called the Blockchain MarTech Landscape. We started tracking all the vendors in the space. Two and a half years ago, or three years ago, when we did the first one, there were 22. We just released version four this month. There are 415.
Brent Leary: Wow.
Jeremy Epstein: And so, the vendor space is exploding as people start to say, “Wait a second. How do we use this distributed technology? How do we use cryptographic tokens? How do we use all these new capabilities to improve the operational efficiency, the transparency, the trust, most importantly, of the marketing function?”
Brent Leary: Is it mostly driven by marketing Blockchain tech, or are there other categories that folks are getting in on?
Jeremy Epstein: Yeah, great question. So, for the most part, we copied the Brinker landscape. We’ve since added a few that are unique only to Blockchain. The biggest categories are, not surprisingly, programmatic advertising, things like that, because you don’t have to be an expert in advertising to know just how screwed up that ecosystem is, and it has Blockchain written all over it. So, that’s where the heaviest concentration is, but if you look at the landscape, you’ll see that it’s really covering a lot of parts nicely, and it’s been very exciting to literally watch this industry get born and start to mature.
Brent Leary: All right. So, it sounds like… Like you said, we’re… Are we into the first quarter, moving into the second quarter? Is that where we are with this?
Jeremy Epstein: Yeah, I would say we’re in the first quarter because the third part of this triad, if you will, is the pilot and the case studies. So, for example, there’s one company called Lucidity. I should disclose I’m an advisor to Lucidity, so keep that in mind. But they did a A/B test with Toyota where it was for a campaign designed to drive test drives, and the A team had all the traditional infrastructure, everything they were doing normally, what have you. The B team used… They weren’t the B team meaning they’re less good. They were just the second team. They used Lucidity to basically simplify the backend process.
When all was said and done, the reconciliation,