KFC launches an innovative blockchain program for its digital advertising and media buying, making it the first QSR (Quick service restaurant) brand in the region to do so. Communicate got a chance to speak with Ozge Zoralioglu, Chief Marketing Officer at KFC, to learn more about this new step, and what it means for the digital media buying industry in the region.
How does the new platform work? What technologies does it fully leverage?
We have long been navigating within a complex, and highly competitive, marketing ecosystem – one that is dominated by complicated data. As this data inefficiently flows among a large number of intermediaries, we often become so focused on the core metrics that we don’t take a step back to look at the bigger picture. With blockchain, we’re able to add more transparency, security, and control.
The new platform leverages a proprietary shared ledger that is built on Ethereum blockchain. It allows us to identify the supply path of every impression, and click by matching and authenticating this data across the entire digital supply chain. This enables us to have greater transparency into our programmatic ecosystem, which then allows us to maximize our return on advertising spend, or ROAS. In a nutshell, this means that we now have more clarity and greater insight, into not only what’s leading to conversions, but also the amount of revenue our conversion actions are generating.
How will it fit within the greater programmatic buying ecosystem and what does it change for other digital media buying stakeholders (DPSs, marketplaces, etc.)?
Blockchain fits neatly into the wider programmatic ecosystem for 3 reasons:
- Open exchange buys deliver scale and reach, however, blockchain technology ensures our ad budgets are spent properly and on qualified inventory;
- It is easy to integrate with our DSPs, 3rd party verification partners, and ad exchanges.
- This solution also works with Private Marketplace (PMP) and programmatic guarantee buys – basically any way we want to buy programmatically.
This means that we can now benefit from even greater degrees of transparency. This solution gives us and our partners the transparency to know that the budgets are being intelligently invested and not getting wasted.
What drove KFC to adopt this technology? Is there a knowledge gap in the industry around blockchain technology?
We are sadly faced with a knowledge gap in the industry about blockchain technology. Part of this might be due to a lack of education around blockchain in general, and a lack of real-world examples that show the true potential of blockchain’s shared ledger in advertising. This is what drove us to adopt such an innovative solution, to not only make our marketing budgets go further, but also set industry benchmarks. Especially in these current times of the coronavirus pandemic, marketers need to be smarter and savvier.
When did its development start and what was its implementation process (testing, iterating, etc.)?
We have been in discussions to bring this pilot project to fruition since late 2019, carefully planning the logistics and working out the process with our various partners across the supply chain. However, once we made the decision to move forward, integration was quite simple – once we were set up, we were ready to go. Today, we are working very closely with all our partners, every step of the way, to review the campaign data in our dashboard and gather actionable insights to make real-time campaign optimizations.
What are its benefits? Does it transform the way you gather data and what does it transform within KFC’s marketing strategy and team?
The blockchain solutions provide us with a holistic view of how each campaign is performing. We now have the capabilities to gather data from various critical touchpoints along the supply chain, in real-time, to assess and adjust, to maximize campaign performance. We are now able to identify which supply sources are generating the most qualified traffic, and shifting budgets accordingly in real-time to improve business ROI.
How does it enhance transparency, since blockchain tech itself is often at the center of issues around transparency?
The transparency that we are able to benefit from is specific to our campaign data. With blockchain technology, we can now track where every media dollar is being spent, and it grants us deeper visibility into our digital supply chain.
How problematic are ad fraud issues in the region and globally, in your views?
Global ad fraud is definitely an issue. The actual degree of it may vary region to region. The reality is, you don’t know how much you’re being defrauded until you actually have a system in place to accurately monitor and catch the fraud.
What are the challenges that this new blockchain-based technology – like any new technology – poses? What are its limitations?
With such emerging technologies, it is crucial that we keep on testing and scaling. Blockchain is working great for us on this pilot. But how will this solution scale alongside the rest of our programmatic spending in MENA? This is something we look to explore further over the next few weeks and months.
How will this change your relationship with the ad agency that handles your media buying business?
Our agency is just as eager as we are to increase transparency and clean up the supply chain. Hearts & Science has done a great job in sourcing and vetting partners to ensure this pilot runs smoothly, as well as conducting advanced analytics to glean learnings and insights from the data.