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Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

Is blockchain the solution to ad tech’s transparency dilemma?

Opinion

Is blockchain the solution to ad tech’s transparency dilemma?

By Puja Pannum, managing director at Blis MENA

We can learn a great deal from the flurry of recent data scandals striking companies of all industries across the globe. And yet, the unavoidable crux of the issue is still at hand – data and advertising both massively lack transparency. Whilst an influx in data protection regulations in Europe has sought to remedy this dilemma, the question of transparency across the global data ecosystem has never been more pertinent, having spawned deep concerns amongst industries and consumers alike.

Un(b)locking transparency

The solution to the industry’s woes may well lie with blockchain technology. As it stands, blockchain has the potential to promise digital security, accountability and transparency across the entire data ecosystem.

The blockchain system essentially involves a shared database of transactions and contracts, not dissimilar to a nexus of digital information owned by several parties. The term itself refers to its core mechanism – each new information is a ‘block’ that links together to form a chain.

Often synonymized with a digital ledger (and most frequently referred to in the same breath as its volatile cryptocurrency cousin, Bitcoin), blockchain functions as a chronological record of transactions that occurs across either a public or private network, depending on the sensitivity of the supplied information. This network of information is dotted around several locations and will update instantaneously once a new block is added to the chain. Once it has been added, the block cannot be edited by anyone.

In a nutshell, blockchain could well mend ad tech’s faulty ecosystem.

Solid links to fortune

Parts of the ad tech industry remain rather shadowy and dubious, lending way to all manner of devious transactions, especially wherever there are intermediaries between the buy and sell side. These are the crucial parts of a transaction where trust should be paramount, but where a lack of transparency allows for exploitation.

The blockchain system has been gradually growing in influence across the MENA region. Companies are now looking to harness its potential and implement its innovative technology to befit different enterprise solutions.

As it stands, blockchain does still have its fair share of limitations. The sheer potential of its infrastructure alone is, however, the underlying reason as to why so many major companies are choosing to invest in it now. Dubai, in particular, is seeking to maximize the prospects of its innovative technology, seeking to eventually record all government transactions on the blockchain. This, it is believed, will save over a billion dollars and many millions of man hours. One day, it could also solve the crisis of data transparency and verification.

Detoxifying ad tech

For both brand marketers and data providers, blockchain can assist in verifying data transactions without having to rely on third parties. In addition, transactions in blockchain are verified by other members – agencies, publishers, or data providers. This seeks to establish and build trust over time, and ultimately ensure the marketplace is more secure and trustworthy for business.

At Blis, we have partnered with IBM’s blockchain team to monitor our data transactions in a transparent ledger. We are intent on unblocking our data, and challenge others to do the same.

 

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