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AdLedger, IBM, Salon Team For a Blockbuster Blockchain-Powered Advertising Solution

The blowup in Bitcoin prices cast a huge spotlight on the potential of blockchain technologies far beyond cryptocurrencies. But the attention hasn’t immediately led to new products, despite blockchain’s promise in so many industries. So it’s welcome news when I see something that a) provides a real service and b) is actually happening, instead of two or three or four years off.

In this welcome case, it’s a proof-of-concept project from three big organizations, Salon Media, IBM and AdLedger, the blockchain-focused ad-tech research consortium. In this case, the three participants are using blockchain tools to solve looming issues in over-the-top video over campaign reconciliation, fraud reduction, real-time metrics and rapid payment.

Advertisers want to know they’re getting what they’ve paid for, while monitoring campaigns to see what’s working so they can adjust as needed. Channels want to provide that information authoritatively and efficiently, and get paid quickly.

That’s where the project from IBM, AdLedger and Salon comes in.

“This proof of concept will not only help publishers like us regain more control over our inventory, but will also illuminate where inefficiencies exist within the long and complex supply chain,” said Salon COO Ryan Nathanson. “The shared ledger on the blockchain will act as a single source of truth creating indisputable transparency for both the brand itself and the publisher, which will aid in greater accuracy during reconciliation as well as make advertiser spend much more efficient.”

According to a release, “The project will use blockchain to improve the process by recording contractual conditions, by which publishers will be paid, and details about impressions to meet those terms will be in a shared system of record that is immutable and fully auditable.”

IBM, both a major advertiser and a giant tech company whose blockchain technology will undergird the project, is keenly attuned to the challenges here, said Chad Andrews, the company’s Global Solutions Leader of Advertising. 

“As an advertiser, we know better than anyone that the current digital advertising system is broken,” said Andrews. “We believe that blockchain can help our advertising dollars go further by eliminating unnecessary intermediaries, and combining disparate sources of data and reconcile immediate metrics based on measurement KPIs tied to campaign delivery.”

The IBM Blockchain Platform is built on the Hyperledger blockchain fabric. The technology will both create a “shared, immutable record of transactions in real-time” and help establish the consensus process governing how participants write, access and validate data, the companies said.

“With the digital advertising industry plagued by fraud, transparency, and brand safety issues, we’re using blockchain to indicate to everyone that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Christiana Cacciapuoti, AdLedger’s Executive Director.

AdLedger’s many members include a wide range of major tech and content companies, including the IAB Tech Lab, GroupM, comScore, Publicis Media, IPG Media Brands, Meredith, iSpot.TV, AppNexus, Tegna and Pluto, as well as IBM and Salon.

The blockchain project is one of two initial projects for the consortium; the other deals with the European Union’s sweeping General Data Protection Regulation. Given the importance and complexity of those issues, and the size of the affected industries, AdLedger and its members will have plenty of work ahead.