01 Oct 2018

VIEWS: Blockchain - The Opportunity and Barriers to Success

The transformative impact of Blockchain technology is still relatively unevidenced and still far on the horizon for media itself. However, Blockchain’s theoretical potential is relatively high for the entire advertising value chain.

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Important questions remain: How can this technology fundamentally impact on the growth of our business — media and advertising — and what are the barriers to adoption? Where can we add value to our clients?

(As a side note, if you’re still confused about Blockchain, before reading further, I suggest looking at the Byzantine General explanation for a tangible, if not ‘ancient’, explanation of how Blockchain works.)

So, where are the opportunities vs risks of this technology?

OpporTuniTies — Trust & Transparency

In the era of disillusionment currently affecting our industry, Blockchain might be the solution for re-instilling confidence and reverting declining levels of trust by making our business more transparent.

As media publishers, agencies, and advertisers, strive to develop agreed and shared standards and conventions, Blockchain has the potential to solve our toughest challenges around trust and transparency. The unit-to-unit relationships and data-to-data points that Blockchain offers could generate a new level of transparency and promise to ease transactions between the media triangle.

Prevention of AdFraud

For our clients who are concerned about the fact that they no longer know whether each Media £/$/Euro was placed with the maximum effectiveness / efficiency. The deployment of Blockchain in programmatic buying could verify and track where each ad is placed, reinventing current fraud detection measures as we know it. And in turn saving the advertiser the considerable amount of money spent in programmatic advertising that goes into ad fraud prevention.

Brand safety measures

Central to our service to clients is guaranteeing brand safety, and upholding their ethical and legal requirements during (programmatic) media delivery. Blockchain could help advertisers reduce the risk of damaging reputation and association through knowing, with assurance, where their ad has been placed.

Handling of customer data

With new and innovative options for the secure storage of data privacy solutions, Blockchain has the potential to hand back control of PII back in the hands of individuals. It could reward users who interact with brands through the ‘sale’ of their data, making them an active and consenting part of the media ecosystem. Something we predicted in our data trends video series ‘Consumers take the power back’.

So why are we not all running to Blockchain now?

BArrierS — Agreement & Speed

The opportunity Blockchain technology could bring to our industry is clear. But there remains barriers to adoption, none more so than the speed of the technology and the need for mutual agreement in the media ecosystem for Blockchain to work.

Speed

As of today, the main barriers and hurdles lie in the poor transaction speed for digital business. The deployment of Blockchain in programmatic delivery would require it to significantly ‘up its game’. Currently, Blockchain can handle about seven transactions per second whilst programmatic ecosystems process several million transactions in per millisecond, making it unfit for purpose. Nonetheless, we expect the technology to evolve rapidly and get up to speed with the industry’s needs as we come out of trial and error phase.

Agreement

At the heart of a successful Blockchain is a functional community who agree and commit to Blockchain in its entirety. Any disagreeing party or ‘dysfunctional family member’ will obstruct the use of Blockchain.

As Blockchain will be disruptive to our ad ecosystem, it will undoubtedly get some people’s backs up. Most likely the opportunity of transparency it presents, may well also be its downfall, as some adtech companies will run away from the disclosure of profit margins and will actively seek to keep those walled gardens in place.

What’s clear is that the Blockchain hype is warranted. This could absolutely transform our business and fundamentally improve the way we work with clients. For now, Blockchain still needs to prove it’s worth to all points of the media triangle.
 

Written by Karin Libowitzky, CEO of Vizeum Germany, off the back of her panel talk at DMEXCO: A New Take on Transparency: How the Blockchain is providing Value in the Media Business