IAB Tech Lab sets up Blockchain Working Group for advertising

Blockchain, which is auditioning for as many future jobs as possible, is now closer to being accepted in the advertising community, following today’s announcement that the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab is setting up a Blockchain Working Group.

Richard Bush, IAB co-chair and CTO of blockchain-based media contract exchange NYIAX, told me he believed “this is the first major standards-making body for blockchain in the media world.”

Blockchain, originally known as the technology underpinning bitcoins, is now exploding in a variety of directions that seek to take advantage of its purported features as a highly secure, highly transparent, distributed online ledger.

In a blog post, Bush and IAB co-chair Michael Palmer, global director of product at [m]Platform, tried to answer the question, “Why blockchain in advertising?”

They cited blockchain’s ability to allow anonymous and semi-anonymous parties to “complete various types of transactions at a low cost,” its resistance to modifying or deleting data once it is stored, and its distributed nature, where each participant has a complete and immediately updated copy of the entire blockchain. They added:

“With many initiatives already in the [works] to adapt blockchain technology in order to address various challenges present in the digital advertising industry, it is important that a framework be put in place to guide the development of a common set of standards and protocols.”

As the post points out, blockchain endeavors already in progress include the Adex decentralized ad exchange, Amino’s transparency-focused ad tech payment tech, Faktor’s identity management platform, Rebel AI’s ad/publisher identity and brand spending platform, and the Basic Attention Token for buying ad and attention-based services.

Bush told me that the first order of business is to set up technical definitions, priorities and top use cases. Key areas of interest for the Working Group are blockchain’s possible roles in fraud prevention, measurement, discrepancy reconciliation in billing, financial transactions and validation of ad resources.

One key drawback for advertising, I pointed out to Bush, is that blockchain tech does not yet operate at the lightning-fast speeds of real-time bidding (RTB).

While acknowledging that “it’s a problem,” Bush added that it’s “not necessary [for blockchain] to write at speeds of RTB” in order to help solve other ad tech problems, such as transparency.

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