The world of ad tech continues to evolve, with frequent advancements. This is no surprise. Nascent technologies go through numerous iterations as marketers seek more efficient and transparent ways of serving ads.
Programmatic marketing appears well established, but fraud, measurement, and transparency issues continue to plague the digital marketplaces, with remedies not yet able to fully counteract the maladies.
Blockchain technology is where ad tech may turn next to address many of these pesky problems.
Briefly, blockchain technology refers to a decentralized digital ledger that records transactions across various computers around the world, helping to prevents records from being altered after the fact without clear evidence in the blockchain itself.
“The opportunities blockchain proposes for marketers are absolutely astronomical, but it is often marred by how difficult the technology is to get your head around,” said Paul Armstrong, author of "Disruptive Technologies: Understand, Evaluate, Respond," as quoted by MarketingWeek.
One relatively unknown Danish ad-tech company, BitTeaser, touts itself as the “first such initiative to be built on blockchain technology -- allowing absolute and guaranteed fairness, a culture of openness, and full and accessible transparency.” An ad network, focused on placing “teaser” ads, BitTeaser claims that “all click-throughs [are] displayed on the blockchain in real-time and can easily be tracked by users.”
Blockchain can be used by firms throughout the media landscape, including TV networks.
“Ultimately, adoption could be near-universal, but this isn’t going to happen anytime soon, since most of the applications (e.g., automated contract execution, encryption) are still in the RFP [request for proposal] stage -- not even the early test stage,” Mark Lieberman, president and CEO of Viamedia, told RTBlog via email.
Scott Braley, general manager of advertising technology at Ooyala, suggests caution against the expected hype for anything new: “[Blockchain] does have serious limitations, especially when it comes to its current inability to scale/validate quickly enough to support verification of real-time trading.”
There's also the issue of opening up data troves for everyone to see. “For instance, certain cable networks may not want to adopt the cryptographic protocols needed to share historical unit rates and consumer purchasing behavior associated with these unit rates,” concluded Lieberman.
In the end, as is the case with most new technologies, the key to the success of blockchain will be adoption.
Many data aggregators can be expected to be hostile to the technology, since it decentralizes one of the most concrete value generators in marketing and advertising: consumer data.
Then again, the benefits of transparency and accountability may be too strong for companies to resist in the long term.