There are over 6,500 different cryptocurrencies, all varying in size of market capitalisation, which have different followings and trading volumes. Some of these are meme coins that have a supporting business model flimsier than a house of cards. 

However, the vast majority are new technologies being created that will disrupt practically everything we know and do in the digital space, as web 3.0, the next iteration of the world wide web, comes to the fore driven by cloud computing.

There’s a plethora of blockchain-based companies and initiatives springing up which are focused on bringing the technology to the digital advertising market. While some sectors have embraced cryptocurrency with open arms, for the media and advertising sectors cryptocurrency is relatively untouched.   

So why up until now has cryptocurrency not been used in the media and advertising?

We trade in dollars, impressions, and eyes on a screen. None of these things sit on a blockchain yet. But like many other industries, there are multiple points of centralised control combined with a bloated and complex web of middlemen that centres around the monetisation of data. There are issues, particularly in the digital space, that might benefit from a blockchain-based solution.   

How blockchains can help solve advertising challenges?

We’ve put together a macro view of some of the challenges the media and advertising industries face and how blockchain in advertising might address them. Here we look at the issues which have historically impacted digital advertising and how we might go about resolving them with new technological infrastructure.  

1. Content monetisation   

Probably the single biggest contributor to many of the issues around poor ad experience is how publishers monetise content. In days gone by, a newspaper might sell circa 3.8 million copies per day costing 20p which generated almost £800k in revenue.   

an image showing the content marketing features.

The Internet brought the notion of free content to the forefront which quickly became an advertiser-funded model with people designing more intrusive formats and charging premium prices for them. We now have regulations in place to limit this, but the experience is still sub-optimal, people are largely ok with the ads trade-off.  

Entry on a blockchain or ledger cannot be duplicated, and entities can prove ownership. Therefore it solves an ownership and copyright problem.  Blockchain more easily facilitates a micro-payment for content model which is one favoured by younger generations who would rather pay for what they consume rather than pay for a library of content. An ad-funded model can also exist for those unwilling to pay, but the value exchange will support end-users being responsible for how much data they want to share.   

They will likely receive both the content and some of the data fee (as cryptocurrency) in return, depending on how much is paid. In this model, most of the sale of the impression would go to the content creator whether that be a company or a freelancer. Challenger browsers such as Brave are already rewarding people in this way with their Basic Attention Token (BAT).   

2. Ad fraud and trust  by using blockchain in advertising  

The estimated cost of fraud to the industry is expected to increase to $50bn per year by 2025. In theory, much of this could be eliminated or vastly reduced by blockchain. A blockchain in advertising networks could prevent bad actors from entering the ecosystem by validating ad placement to only non-fraudulent web traffic and content.  

Entries on blockchains have single records which can be validated, the company could create a trusted marketplace where all participants are known to be human, non-fraudulent, legitimate content.

3. Universal measurement  approach

Google’s self-imposed deprecation of third-party cookies will affect many of the solutions we have built over the years in our search for a robust and universal measurement approach across a range of campaigns. There are solutions being built to negate the impact of this, just as there is a range of different types of measurement and new metrics coming to the forefront. For example, attention metrics could form a focus for digital as we look outside of the last action cookie-based solutions.  

If there’s one thing blockchain is set up for though, it’s the verification and storing of data. Because we will know who has consented to see which ads, when they’ve seen them and on which piece of content. Subsequently if their wallet address goes on to make a purchase. We’ll know who has opted out and we’ll be able to more readily conduct incrementality analysis.   

Cross-media effectiveness studies should also improve as the vast majority of media will sit on the same blockchain and be internet enabled. The current concerns with cookies would hopefully become a bump in the road from a measurement POV (point of view) as we replace them with something privacy and trust focused yet sustainable.  

4. Immersive Ad experience   

IBM is just one company that is spearheading many of the key initiatives, bringing agencies and ad tech companies along with it on some of the most important projects which require more of a groupthink solution. It has also partnered with MediaOcean to bring a blockchain solution to market with a view of delivering universal supply chain transparency. Alongside other acquisitions such as Flashtalking, 4C and current media systems as well as automation capabilities, MediaOcean look primed to bring everything together in a very exciting way for advertisers and agencies alike.  

For media, blockchain in advertising is a potentially clean slate. It is a raft of new initiatives and products with privacy and payment-centric approach with trust at its core. It’s a chance for the industry to right the wrongs of the past and tackle the challenges of the future with more solid foundations and a greater sense of mutual respect for all parties involved, including the much maligned and taken advantage of consumer.   

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