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article imageNew working group to explore the use of blockchain in digital ads

By James Walker     Sep 19, 2017 in Technology
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has set up a Blockchain Working Group, bringing the technology a step closer to widespread use in marketing. The blockchain's transparent nature could help control the flood of ad fraud in the industry.
The working group was created by the IAB Tech Lab, responsible for exploring emerging technologies and studying how they could relate to the digital ads industry. The effort will look at how blockchain tech is currently used, whether it could be standardised and ultimately how best to include it in ad marketplaces.
The blockchain could make the ad industry more secure and transparent. Its open and immutable ledger makes it an attractive technology to marketers. As ad fraud continues to grow, the blockchain could offer an alternative that makes bad practice much more difficult. The requirement for all transactions to be verified by each involved party further reduces the risk of fraud.
"This ability to keep a fully verifiable and immutable ledger or database available to all members of a particular group or market makes blockchain an attractive tool to address challenges as diverse as payment processing or fraud prevention," said the IAB. "Such a fundamental technology should not be ignored, it should be embraced, and this is why we are forming the group."
There are challenges to be resolved. Compared to today's automated bidding platforms, the blockchain is slower so it could be less competitive. The same verified transactions that make it secure also increase processing times, making it harder to work with than regular alternatives.
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Adding to the problem is the blockchain's unfamiliar nature to many marketers. Part of the success of the platforms offered by firms like Facebook and Google has been down to their accessibility. While the blockchain makes individual transactions more transparent, it could add a layer of obscurity to the larger process while customers become acquainted with the technology.
Nonetheless, Blockchain's already being used on a small scale in marketing. The IAB recognised several promising efforts that are trying to use the blockchain to build a better ads ecosystem, such as AdChain and Amino. It said it would be reaching out to the existing projects as it starts to consider a standard for using the blockchain in the industry. The IAB is optimistic the technology could bring "mutual benefits" to marketers and the web, if a set of common protocols is devised.
"We believe the collaboration based network effects of Blockchain are already changing the way global industries perform transactions and share data. This shift in paradigms provides mutual benefits for digital markets, advertising being one of the fastest growing industries," said the IAB in a blog post. "With many initiatives already in the work to adapt blockchain technology in order to address various challenges present in the digital advertising industry, it is important that a framework be put in place to guide the development of a common set of standards and protocols."
If it takes off, the blockchain could singlehandedly bring about a safer and more efficient digital ads industry. As it begins to pick up steam, the technology's likely to gain a lot more attention in the field over the coming months. With calls from the top for the industry to "embrace" the blockchain, the time to start investigating its possibilities is evidently upon us.
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