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by Christopher Tozzi, Jun 28, 2018

IBM and Mediaocean Launch New Blockchain Platform for Digital Advertising


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Competition among blockchain-based advertising solutions has grown even more intense with the announcement from IBM and Mediaocean that they are forming a new blockchain consortium for digital advertising and media. 

The two companies announced the consortium at Cannes Lions, a technology and media conference, last week. 

The consortium will be oriented around a software platform that combines IBM’s enterprise blockchain with Mediaocean’s digital advertising software. The companies said that the new solution will bring greater transparency to the digital advertising ecosystem by enabling greater visibility into how ad dollars are actually spent. 

If you follow news related to blockchain applications in the media space, this story probably sounds familiar. It’s no secret that traditional digital advertising suffers from a lack of transparency. Several companies, such as MAD Network and XCHNG, have been vying for some time to leverage blockchain technology as a way to solve this challenge.

Indeed, the announcement from Cannes wasn’t the first time IBM has promised to disrupt the digital advertising ecosystem using blockchain technology. The company previously announced a partnership with Unilever that also promised to bring transparency to the ad placement process.

It’s unclear whether the latest announcement from IBM and Mediaocean is related to that earlier effort. But that seems possible given that Unilever is a member of the consortium that IBM and Mediaocean have formed around the new platform. (Other consortium members announced by IBM and Mediaocean include Kellogg, Kimberly-Clark and Pfizer.)

It is also not yet clear exactly how the new blockchain-based advertising platform will work, although statements from the companies behind the initiative offer some clues. Rob Master, vice president of global media at Unilever, offered a statement about solving the pain points of marketers who “have to deal with a whole host of issues in the digital ad environment from quality control and security to financial transparency.”

Similarly, Bill Wise, Mediaocean CEO, focused on improving “spend transparency.”

“By partnering with IBM, we’re able to launch the first advertising blockchain solution that will improve spend transparency — at scale,” Wise said in the announcement. “This will help us come together as an industry under a single source of truth and rebuild trust to push us into a new era of advertising transformation.”

It would appear, then, that the platform will cater to the needs of advertisers and marketers who are seeking more cost-efficient and transparent ways of placing ads, as well as better solutions for tracking the effectiveness of the ads they place.

Helping advertisers is one important step toward disrupting the ad tech space using blockchain technology, although other stakeholders could also benefit from the transparency that a blockchain-based advertising solution would provide. A blockchain could help publishers ensure that they are receiving the best prices for the ads they agree to display, for example. It could also enable new ways for consumers to choose which ads they see, a use case that the Brave web browser recently began supporting.

Yet there is certainly a great deal of value to be created by providing advertisers with a fairer, more transparent ad placement ecosystem. We’ll begin seeing how well IBM and Mediaocean address this issue in July, when their new advertising platform is set to launch.