Based on Gartner’s hype cycle for digital marketing in 2019, blockchain technology is one of the newest buzzwords on the block for advertising.
Most of the hype is driven by the coverage of the technology across news media but the understanding of the nitty-gritties and what it means for advertising is still quite nascent among advertising professionals.
Unlike other buzzwords on the hype cycle, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are underlying technologies and, in my opinion, the actual focus should be more around the use cases being developed and designed and what that might mean for advertisers.
This needs to happen early, as it would be commercially prudent to build a consensus on approaches and standardization across the larger advertising groups during the development of such platforms. This would provide opportunities to focus the investment by seeing whether these solutions need to be built from the bottom up, or if there might be an opportunity to have a centralized platform which all agencies can build on top of.
I believe the push towards adoption of blockchain will be driven by two factors.
1. GROWING THE NECESSITY FOR THE SOLUTION.
At the moment, in advertising, most frameworks for blockchain are envisaged around the reconciliation, verification and authentication of transactions across the digital buying supply chain. But for most of the media agencies and advertisers this is not a priority, with digital adoption still being the key focus area in Asia. There are signs that this might become a focus area in the near future, however.
Trafficguard estimated that for 2018, $17 million USD was lost to ad fraud on a daily basis in Asia Pacific. There are also initial signs that the industry might be shifting towards programmatic guaranteed buys, showing that there is a growing appetite in the market to buy assured reliable inventory.
As this picks up there would be a larger investment into better technology which assures reliable and guaranteed good quality viewable inventory.
2. FOCUSING ON WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE END USER
The use of blockchain for advertising can usher in multiple new solutions which would previously not have been possible without this technology. Take for example Knowledge.io, a blockchain based system to manage consumer consent and preferences around privacy. A robust system for a consumer managing his/her consent wouldn’t have been possible before the advent of blockchain.
But for more industry adoption it would be important for such platforms/solutions to provide a clear idea of how they help the end user. During the initial days of blockchain, most startups were focused more on the technology itself as that would bring in the interest and investment; typically this would be highlighted by a technical whitepaper on the website.
With a clear understanding of how the solutions based on blockchain could be a game changer, companies are now positioning themselves towards the end user.
For example Vuulr is a Singapore based content platform servicing OTT players and addresses a specific need in the OTT ecosystem. The actual use of the service is the focus on their website, rather than the underlying technology although it is driven by blockchain. A similar approach might be needed across other blockchain based platforms where they educate prospective end users about the actual solution and the differentiation against existing services.
I would suspect that, like other recent technological shifts, i.e. cloud technologies and the proliferation of SaaS, we will probably approach a time where the usage of blockchain in any advertising transaction will become the norm and the outcome and experience from these platforms is all that would matter.