IPA President welcomes results of blockchain pilot for programmatic

Increasing the efficiency and transparency of programmatic advertising.

IPA President Nigel Vaz has welcomed the results of the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) twelve-month, cross-industry pilot that demonstrate the benefits of using blockchain technology, specifically Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), to increase the efficiency and transparency of programmatic advertising.

Launched by JICWEBS last year prior to its merger with TAG, the pilot included participants from major brands including Nestle, Telefonica/O2, McDonald’s, Virgin Media and Johnson & Johnson; agencies including GroupM, Havas, IPG, Mindshare, OMD, and Zenith; and more than 15 prominent ad tech providers and publishers spanning nearly every segment of the supply chain.

"Building a more transparent ecosystem requires both innovation and collaboration, and this pilot has demonstrated our industry’s commitment to working together to quickly and thoroughly evaluate new technologies,” said Jules Kendrick, Managing Director UK & Europe for TAG. “Our pilot showed promising opportunities for a DLT platform, including the potential to achieve a ‘Shared Truth’ where the same data is recognized as valid and accurate across the supply chain. We look forward to expanding our consultative efforts to help ensure that every participant in the supply chain can be sure that ‘what you see is what I see."

 The results of the pilot helped demonstrate the potential of DLT for:

  • Supply Chain Transparency – Despite log level data availability and inconsistency issues, the TAG DLT Pilot successfully validated the use of a DLT platform as a unified data and reporting layer for the industry. DLT harmonises impression log level data to a common format, automates data access management, ensures data immutability, security and privacy - data recorded in the ledger is only be accessed on a need-to know basis via encryption keys under the control of the data provider - and streamlines the access to supply chain reconciled log level data via a single API.
  • Supply Chain Optimisation – The Pilot allowed participants to use Shared Truth to validate the execution of campaigns against a set of metrics reconciled among multiple vendors including discrepancies, measurability, viewability, brand safety or fraud prevention metrics. The focus of the Pilot was more on the validation and reconciliation of impressions against qualitative and quantitative metrics and less on the financial values. For DLT reconciled impressions, 34% were categorised as non-qualified and/or non-viewable.
  • Operational Efficiencies – The DLT platform successfully tested how smart contracts can automate business processes between ad buyers and sellers providing significant operational efficiencies. Research conducted with agencies indicated that programmatic teams spend up to 60% of their time downloading, formatting and reconciling data, compared with just 20% analysing it. Additionally, 59% of respondents thought campaign reporting and reconciliation would benefit most from automation.

"To address difficult cross-industry challenges, TAG helps create a collaborative environment for companies to share new ideas, exchange information, and set common standards,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “While DLT is still in its early stages, we believe this pilot not only highlights the potential for this type of technology but also the importance of working with stakeholders across industry to evaluate and find consensus on common standards."

The findings of the Pilot were discussed at a CreaTech session ‘Where advertising meets technology’ as part of London Tech Week, featuring Jules Kendrick, MD UK and Europe, TAG; Fiducia CEO Tim Brown and IPA President and CEO of Publicis Sapient, Nigel Vaz.

TAG partnered with London-based tech business FIDUCIA for the pilot, which ran from July 2019 to July 2020 and included 20 data feeds spanning Demand Side Platforms, Supply Side Platforms, Content Verification Tools, and Publishers. The pilot analysed 112 million impressions worth £1.4M across 127 campaigns.

Commenting on the programme, IPA President Nigel Vaz said: "For me the focus of this project is ultimately about digital advertising payments and reconciliation of the supply chain. While the internet made information accessible to everyone, we hope blockchain as a technology – and specifically DLT, as used in this pilot, will start to create accountability for the transactional aspects of the internet.

While driving efficiencies, it will also enable greater transparency in line with real, demanding regulatory requirements in a way that will allow us to regain the trust we’ve lost due to the evolving proliferation in this area.

Nigel Vaz, IPA President and CEO of Publicis Sapient
Last updated 10 September 2020