Blockchain is more than bitcoin — it’s a potential end to the transparency debate


Written by Danny Charles | Periscope Media Supervisor 

Most people have at least heard the term “blockchain” by now, but what does it mean and how does it affect the advertising industry? We’re glad you asked.

Blockchain is essentially a public ledger — transactions are recorded, confirmed and shared — and it’s unalterable. Originally the goal was to use blockchain in the financial trading world as a way to go beyond a central authority (like a bank), and expand to have a larger, more secure network as the basis of an approval system. There are two types of blockchain: permissionless (any user can join the network — think bitcoin) and permissioned (restricted access).

Now that you have a basic idea of the technology, let’s apply it to our industry. Think about media buying, for example. Using a blockchain system to validate the entire life cycle of a digital media buy (and potentially other media channels) means that from client authorization to the inventory purchase and run verification, everything is tracked digitally. Transparency between clients, agencies and media partners has been a very hot topic, with P&G leading the charge — just recall the new digital rules that P&G laid out in January (coverage via Advertising Age). Another example? Google and Facebook ad buys were being applied to questionable content, and a public outcry swiftly followed. Blockchain could be used to put an end to this questionable behavior by making everything more transparent.

Overall, the blockchain technology is still young, and a large-scale adoption would require larger organizations to jump on the bandwagon first. While blockchain won’t be something we deal with on a daily basis anytime soon, we may one day wonder how we lived without it.