Advertising News

McDonald’s, Nestlé and Virgin Media join advertising blockchain pilot


On Wednesday Nestlé, McDonald’s and Virgin Media became the first brands to enlist in the blockchain pilot run by JICWEBS, a U.K. cross-industry body working to optimize digital advertising. The project aims to resolve the trust, transparency and inefficiency problems faced by the industry.

Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) has partnered with London-based tech company FIDUCIA for the pilot project. The initiative will evaluate the application of blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) in digital advertising, and the pilot will run for the rest of the year.

The objective of the blockchain project is to provide end-to-end supply chain transparency and clarity around advertising spend. It’s likely to see additional participants, including publishers and technology vendors in the coming months.

Talking about their involvement in the initiative, Kat Howcroft, Senior Media and Budget Manager at McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said, “This technology offers us the opportunity to see a truly transparent picture of our investment across the digital supply chain. We are also eager to understand the potential impact that this may have on our ROI and efficiency.”

These first three brands will also be joined by their respective media agencies Zenith, OMD UK and Manning Gottlieb OMD in the trial. JICWEBS added that further stages will look to optimize the supply chain, gain operational efficiencies and eliminate ad fraud for all involved.

The original promise of digital advertising was a precise measurement with detailed data. The problem is that there are so many players involved in an ad campaign — each with their proprietary technologies — that the advertiser ends up with a lack of transparency. The ecosystem includes ad servers, exchanges, and ad networks. Additionally, to make sense of it all, there are data management platforms (DMP) and demand-side platforms (DSP) intended to provide the buyer with a single user interface covering all exchanges.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found these intermediaries take around 50 percent of the ad spend, sometimes as high as 60 percent as well. The pilot will facilitate collaboration with other participants to reduce wastage of non-impressions, bad practices, and fraud and get additional business as a trusted participant.

We asked Fiducia about the technology being used. In an email response Igor Alerov, Chief Product Officer said: “[The] Fiducia technology stack includes [an] Ethereum-based permissioned blockchain and proprietary patent-pending solution developed by Fiducia, to address scalability and privacy management requirements for the digital advertising industry.”

“Fiducia’s team is also evaluating number of other DLT solutions as alternatives to Ethereum to better address industry needs.”

If the pilot is successful, JICWEBS plans to roll it out in 2020 after consulting with the industry.

While this is a U.K. project, there are numerous global initiatives. The IAB which is a member of JICWEBS is also rolling out blockchain projects. AdLedger is a cross industry blockchain specific organization and has published some useful papers. Six months ago the MediaOcean blockchain developed with IBM went live. When first announced, it boasted big brands such as Kellogg, Kimberly-Clark, Pfizer and Unilever.

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