As technology shifts, how can we overcome digital advertising challenges?

Technology is shifting at a macro level to help the digital advertising industry solve some of its biggest issues. From lack of transparency to security concerns, privacy concerns, uninterested audiences, and problems with measurement, there is no shortage of challenges for the sector. Tom Marsden from MediaCom explores potential blockchain solutions for anyone in the digital advertising industry.

The answer to many of the problems lies in the next phase of the internet, referred to as web 3.0. The third generation of internet services for websites and applications (web 3.0) will focus on using a machine-based understanding of data to provide a data-driven and semantic web which will create more intelligent, connected, and open websites.

There are also a growing number of blockchain-based companies and initiatives which are focused on bringing blockchain to the sector to help solve some of the challenges. IBM is one company which is spearheading many of the key initiatives, bringing agencies and ad tech companies along with it on some of the most important projects which require more of a groupthink solution. It has also partnered with MediaOcean to bring a blockchain solution to market with a view of delivering universal supply chain transparency to the sector.

I’ve put together a list of some of the other blockchain solutions on the market for the digital advertising industry.


A decentralised programmatic ad exchange based on neural networks and smart contracts which enables effective programmatic advertising. Essentially a DSP such as DV360 or Xandr but underpinned by blockchain.


A project which is focused on increasing engagement and advertising revenue for video publishers on any video platform. Verasity provides rewarded video player tech to publishers and game developers which creates an attention-based model that facilitates a tokenised rewards economy between viewers, video and game producers and advertisers. Veracity already has integrations with Youtube, Twitch, Vimeo, JW player and Flowplayer amongst others where end users can earn VRA tokens by gaming or watching content/ads. These VRA tokens can then be exchanged for subscriptions, entry fees, games, tournaments, apps and exchanged for FIAT currency via a cryptocurrency exchange. It is also developing proof of view tech which is aimed at wiping out fraudulent video views.

Boson Protocol

Boson is developing an open tokenised economy for commerce and allowing consumers to shop in the metaverse in an attempt to bring together the worlds of digital and physical products. Boson has purchased ‘real estate’ in Decentraland and plans to work with brands to allow customers to purchase one-of-a-kind virtual products for cryptocurrency which will be delivered as a non-fungible token (NFT) which can then be redeemed for a physical product at a bricks and mortar store. This has huge potential, particularly in the world of luxury fashion.


A nonprofit consortium founded by IBM, AdLedger works to build rules and standards for the application of blockchain and cryptography in the media and advertising Industry. AdLedger has developed a series of working groups aimed at providing the industry with education, measurement solutions, policies, and privacy compliant solutions. It has built CryptoRTB v1.0 which seeks to create immutable identities and validation tools by inserting an encrypted object to the bid request which will allow all parties to certify metadata such as domain name, player size, buyer seat, ad domain or first party user data.


MadHive has developed a unified video ad platform with a real-time AI, powered by blockchain. MadHive has built an OTT-first device graph which allows advertisers to activate using cryptographically-verified data for the most up-to-date targeting which also allows for easy integration of first and third party data sets. The Cryptographic validation solution reduces fraud in the buying process allowing the decisioning engine to deliver the right audience at the best price. All underpinned by CryptoRTB which is developed in conjunction with AdLedger in a first-of-its-kind initiative to attain a transparent supply chain.


In an age of fake news, IBM blockchain delivers a badge of trust for online media. Safe.Press is a proof of concept which uses IBM blockchain technology to track and authenticate the source of a published news story with one click. Each news story is recorded on a ledger, the details of where, when and by whom a story is published in a bid to fight issues related to fake news and content ownership, which should ultimately help in content monetisation as well as in the combat of ad fraud.

What does the future hold?

Group M in 2019 worked on a series of articles and industry thought pieces around blockchain in advertising and concluded that whilst the technologies have a lot of potential to solve some of the issues highlighted, the products, players in the market and the infrastructure weren’t yet robust enough to handle a volume of data required by programmatic. Nor are we approaching a tipping point whereby usage was starting to ramp up and forcing a shift to a new modus operandi.

We’re still not there, though the technology continues to develop, and more products and use-cases come to the fore increasingly spearheaded by the titans of the tech industry such as Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft alongside the likes of Bitfury (a leading emerging technologies company).

Growth is expected to ramp up significantly over the next five to seven years and we remain engaged with industry bodies and steering groups regarding use of blockchain in advertising to be able to connect brands with these technologies as they gain traction. We would expect (as preceded programmatic advertising) that an industry such as finance would reach the point of widespread adoption first before others follow-suit.

One area gaining huge traction though, which brands are already engaging with (as touched upon earlier) is the Metaverse, which could end up being an entry point for brands to start engaging with this technology.

A concept related to audiences exploring a digital universe (with heavy ties to gaming) – Facebook has named its company after it and ITV are betting big on content experiences within it. The metaverse can exist without a blockchain and cryptos, though a true metaverse intrinsically links with the notion of being open networks, virtual assets exchanged as value with data storage via a verifiable ledger. Given the prominence of companies driving this forward, it won’t be a surprise to see advertisers exploring opportunities in increasing numbers which could bring about a halo effect for uptake of blockchain technologies as a whole.