A new trend has emerged in the blockchain ecosystem. Partnerships and consortiums now seem to spring up like mushrooms, creating opportunities for further exploration and exploitation of blockchain technology.
There are consortiums like that led by R3, which includes 70 of the world’s leading financial institutions, and the Digital Trade Chain Consortium, which comprises seven major European banks seeking to improve secure data sharing, tracking and management.
The Blockchain Insights Platform marks the latest effort to form a blockchain-based consortium, this time in the world of media and advertising.
Comcast initiated the partnership, which includes some of the world’s leading media companies, including NBCUniversal, Disney, Altice USA, Channel 4, Cox Communications, Mediaset Italia and TFI Group. This partnership is set to develop a blockchain-based platform for ad buying for broadcast and streaming television.
The main goal of the platform is to connect the databases of its members, enabling transparent and efficient access to this data without the necessity of any single intermediary. Based on their vast range of shared information, members will be able to better assess where to buy and direct their advertising campaigns.
But building an industry network around blockchains is no simple or straightforward process. Regardless of how promising it sounds, Comcast still has a long way to go before it can actually prove the platform will work seamlessly. After all, blockchain technology still constitutes a relatively unknown territory for many. There is also the fact that working openly with a group of partners, many of whom can be thought of as competitors, can be a challenge for media industry leaders. Tech and pharma companies have a long tradition of working with open innovation, while financial organizations typically struggle to do so. Telecom and media players may find themselves somewhere in the middle.
The Blockchain Insights Platform is not expected to be released until 2018, so there is still time left to work through complications and assess its progress.
If the Blockchain Insights Platform partnership is successful, the use of programmatic marketing in media could become much more widespread, particularly on television. With the data supplied by the participating media partners, the blockchain platform would secure safe data exchange and simultaneously reduce the risk of fraud.
However, the use cases for the platform are yet to be determined. While the consortium will certainly involve data sharing, it could encompass ad buying as well. One of the most attractive traits of blockchain technology is its capability to enable and execute smart contracts without intermediaries. Programmatic media buying could thus become more transparent and could rid itself of intermediaries. Advertisers would be able to buy ads based on highly specific consumer data, allowing them to target audiences easily and with precision.
There is, as always, a catch. Currently, advertisers purchase ads in real time through automated processes. Although blockchains offer many advantages over traditional technologies, their computing power is still largely insufficient to continue this practice. Because a blockchain is decentralized, it takes time for transactions to be verified. While not exactly slow, this process is not fast enough to allow for ad transactions in real time. The media industry should nevertheless be optimistic that this could change with wider adoption of blockchains and subsequent increases in computing power.
As blockchain technology is still in its infancy, particularly in the advertising sector, it would be unreasonable to expect revolutionary changes anytime soon. But the technology is on the rise, and the adaptation of it in banking, insurance, pharma and supply chain management only proves that there will likely be more of it in the future. It is certainly positive that the advertising sector is advancing and focusing on innovation. With initiatives like the Blockchain Insights Platform, media giants may actually discover new revenue streams. Even more interestingly, they could steer advertising and marketing in entirely new directions.
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