Will Blockchain be the technology that solves the programmatic industry woes, or is it just another buzzword that we need to add to our vernacular in case someone brings it up in a conversation?
Either way it helps to know why people are talking about blockchain technology and how it will help or change the programmatic buying industry. The problem that most people are hoping that blockchain has the potential to solve is transparency throughout the advertising supply chain – which means advertisers having a better understanding of cost and the visibility of their ads.
What is Blockchain Technology?
First of all Blockchain isn’t a new technology, and it wasn’t developed specifically for the advertising industry. It was originally created for managing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Blockchain is a continuous series of records – blocks – linked by encryption, that sit across a distributed database and are stored on computers all around the world. Each time a transaction is made, a message is sent to the network to agree (or disagree) that the transaction is legitimate before giving the approval.
Why Are Marketers Interested in Blockchain for Programmatic Buying?
Blockchain has the ability to create a highly secure trading network for advertisers, by publicly storing data to create a permanent audit trail with an unchangeable record of all transactions that occur within the programmatic buying marketplace. This provides marketers with full visibility into their ad buy, to better track all transactions that are taking place automatically and ensure their budget is actually being used effectively. Using blockchain technology, a record of all transactions taking place throughout the ad-buying and selling process is made and in the future marketers can use this knowledge to reduce, or even eradicate, hidden costs or fees from multiple intermediaries within the ad-buying supply chain.
The main benefits of blockchain for advertisers include:
- Keeping track of each point where that ad shows up effectively, so that the advertiser can control the process and get more working dollars in front of users/ clients
- It can provide more transparency with relation to ad fraud and brand safety by allowing advertisers to record exactly where their ad campaign is being delivered and whom it is reaching
For those companies who are thinking of bringing their programmatic in-house there will be some benefits from the direct line of communication that blockchain offers with data providers and other vendors. This means more transparency on how data is collected and sourced. So if the advertiser doesn’t have to worry about security or fraud and is able to leverage transparency they can focus on improving their targeting strategies and invest in creative and an overall better experience for their audience.
So When Should We Expect Blockchain to go Mainstream?
If blockchain is so powerful, why has it not being used more widely? After all, it’s not a new technology, what’s holding the ad-tech business back from implementing it?
First of all, it’s really bad for the environment! Blockchain inherently uses an immense amount of energy. It’s by nature a space-hungry technology because the series of blocks become very large very quickly and become hundreds of gigabytes in size. And as the chains get bigger you need more storage and capacity is limited. Then that data needs to load every time you make a transaction, which is not practical for any type of programmatic buying, which involves millions of transaction per second. That’s a lot of blocks.
So this probably not going to be the year of blockchain for Real-Time Bidding (RTB) but it doesn’t mean it can’t be implemented in other parts of the ecosystem. For instance, it can be used to authenticate the publishers advertisers are working with when they set up private marketplace deals. Even though PMPs are meant to be safer or fraud free they are still subject to domain spoofing. Using blockchain to set these deals up could give advertisers another layer of verification. So blockchain still has some possibilities. We are keeping an eye on it but haven’t seen it move the needle in any direction as of yet.