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June 19, 2018updated 27 Jun 2018 9:27am

IBM iX and Mediaocean Bet on Blockchain to Tackle Ad Spend Opacity

"The industry has been plagued with unsustainable economics and transparency issues that hinder progress – particularly around intermediary fees and non-working media."

By CBR Staff Writer

Mediaocean and IBM iX today announced the launch of a pilot blockchain network for media deals, which will bring in some of the world’s largest advertisers, agencies and publishers, including Kellogg, Kimberly-Clark, Unilever and IBM Watson Advertising.

The platform aims to bring transparency and trust to an increasingly opaque media spending environment.

It comes as uncomfirmed reports circled this week suggesting The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is looking into media trading practices in the US advertising industry amid concerns about a lack of transparency.

Media data specialists Warc earlier this year analysed ad spend data from Magna Global and concluded that over $30 billion (£22 billion) of the $63.4 billion spent on programmatic advertising worldwide last year wound up in the hands of tech vendors.

Wait: Who and Who?

Mediaocean operates a major software platform used extensively in the advertising world, that processes $140 billion (£106 billion) annually in advertising spend.

IBM iX is a digital design agency that has built itself into the largest digital agency in the world – making waves by snapping up three creative agencies in the space of just one week in 2016. In 2017 IBM announced it had been using its AI system Watson to target consumers in programmatic ad buys and would be taking that capability to clients.

With iX it added the capacity to produce creative work.

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Where Does Blockchain Come In?

The new blockchain-based system aims to provide visibility into the lifecycle of an advertiser’s media spending flow.

From issuing of the purchase order, to the execution of media and payment –  the blockchain system will be used to help tackle this by recording all media transactions in a secure, immutable, standardized and comprehensive manner.

The pilot program will launch in July.

Bill Wise, CEO, Mediaocean, said: “In recent years the industry has been plagued with unsustainable economics and transparency issues that hinder progress – particularly around intermediary fees and non-working media.”

He added: “By partnering with IBM, we’re able to launch the first advertising blockchain solution that will improve spend transparency – at scale. This will help us come together as an industry under a single source of truth and rebuild trust to push us into a new era of advertising transformation.”

Babs Rangaiah, Executive Partner, Global Marketing, IBM iX, said: “Measurement and transparency require new solutions across the programmatic supply chain and blockchain is a technology strategically used to create an environment of trust. It will bring tremendous benefits to media buying, especially with industry leaders like Mediaocean leading the charge.”

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