How blockchain could change the advertising industry

How blockchain could change the advertising industry

Digital advertising fraud costs the industry billions. Blockchain offers possible relief – and lessons for other vertical markets

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December 11, 2018
reinvention imperative

But beware blockwashing

Marta Pierkarska, director of ecosystem at Hyperledger, explains the overall appeal of blockchain in matters of data transparency that can transcend industries.

“With blockchain, data is being distributed rather than copied,” Pierkarska says. “This means that the version received at the very end of the chain is identical to the original at the beginning of it.”

Pierkarska likens blockchain’s potential in the ad space to areas like music rights management and IP protection, where blockchain-based solutions have begun popping up to address similar issues.

“In advertising, we will see blockchains that allow distributing money according to actual usage, clicks, and views of given content,” Pierkarska says.

“We’ve seen many companies delivering products that aren’t actually using the blockchain.”

Even in a sector like digital advertising where blockchain has considerable potential, there are reminders that this isn’t to be treated as magic pixie dust. A blockchain is only reliable as the information that’s put on it.

“It will not remove the need to verify what content goes to the system,” Pierkarska reminds us. “Digital content and claims made about it can be stored securely on a blockchain, but first these claims need to be approved and verified.”

This is already a concern in the ad industry, according to Yang, who underlines the need for clear, enforceable standards.

“We’ve seen many companies delivering products that aren’t actually using the blockchain,” Yang says. “They’re simply taking centralized data, transferring to a decentralized database, and calling it a blockchain solution.”

Lucidity refers to this practice as “blockwashing,” and it’s the kind of activity that will undermine blockchain adoption not just in advertising but across industries because it reinforces blockchain’s occasional reputation problem.

“In the long run, if the community continues to deploy these faulty solutions, businesses will catch on and abandon their eagerness to experiment with blockchain in digital advertising,” Yang says.

[ Read also: How to tell when moving to blockchain is a bad idea. ]

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