Blockchain technology has been described as “the backbone of a new type of internet.” Developed by a group of people under the name, Satoshi Nakamoto, it allows digital information to be distributed to different internet locations, but not copied (a plus for security). It was originally devised to facilitate the digital currency Bitcoin, but it has quickly become evident that it is useful for other applications as well.
According to Don & Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution, “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Blockchain technology has proven to be quite trustworthy. According to an article on BlockGeeks, “Blockchain technology is like the internet in that it has a built-in robustness. By storing blocks of information that are identical across its network, the blockchain cannot be controlled by any single entity and has no single point of failure. Bitcoin was invented in 2008. Since that time, the Bitcoin blockchain has operated without significant disruption.”
As blockchain applications spread to other industries, one of the arenas it is predicted to impact is programmatic adtech. AdTech, or advertising technology, refers to a range of tools and analytics used for advertising. AdTech discussions very often center around difficult to understand systems used for advertising that aim at targeting specific audiences or individuals.
How will blockchain impact programmatic adtech?
There are a couple of ways that blockchain technology aims to impact programmatic adtech as we know it today. Below are two of the primary ways that are increasingly becoming evident:
Blockchain could transform adtech’s “transparency crisis”
Advertising fraud, as well as a major lack of trust among multiple companies within the entire digital adtech space, has created a conflict of sorts within this ecosystem. Blockchain could address these issues in a big way, but there is still reason for caution.
Christiana Cacciapuoti, executive director of AdLedger, says, “Blockchain technology can definitely put a dent in the transparency issue, but questions around implementation remain. Today’s blockchain solutions involve putting the shared, transparent ledger on top of the existing open RTB ecosystem, acting as a trailing audit that public records and stores all steps in the process. This will create interim wins around data discrepancy and can illuminate what is today a very murky and convoluted supply chain.”
Blockchain can help facilitate the implementation of smart applications
Some suggest that Blockchain shouldn’t be looked at as a solution to all of the problems in programmatic adtech. Instead, it should be thought of as one layer in a full-stack of applications aimed at addressing the industry’s major issues. Blockchain can be implemented through smaller, smarter applications and slowly built into larger adtech systems.
Manny Puentes, founder, and CEO of Rebel AI, writes, “Companies can begin to build on blockchain through contract execution. Programmatic has always promised to eliminate the heavy lifting of RFPs and paper contracts, but it has been messy in practice with so many intermediaries between publisher and advertiser, which have siphoned a lot of value between what the publisher is willing to accept and what an advertiser is willing to pay.”
Puentes goes on to say that, “Blockchain platforms, particularly Ethereum, have smart contract functionality natively built in, and rules can be put in place that only executes the contract in cases where the buyer’s price matches the seller’s price.”
Programmatic adtech is an especially troubled space—particularly around the issues of privacy, trust, and permission. Blockchain shouldn’t be seen as a panacea, but it can help facilitate positive change within the industry and maybe leave a good deal of room for constructive conversation and improvement.