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Updates from the Blockchain Working Group

By Shailley Singh

We announced the formation of the Blockchain Working Group on September 18, 2017 under the leadership of Richard Bush, President, NYIAX, and Michael Palmer, Director, GroupM. This was followed by a live member event on October 18 at MetaX HQ in Santa Monica and a kick-off meeting on November 1, 2017, just before the cryptocurrency frenzy sent bitcoin’s price to dizzying heights of nearly USD $20,000. While bitcoin is one of the first blockchain protocols, the focus of the Tech Lab working group is on the technology and other protocols that can be applied to digital advertising use cases.

The working group has come a long way since then, with over 150 companies and more than 300 individual members participating and contributing to defining how blockchain technology can help solve some of the challenges faced by digital advertising. Moreover,  a number of companies are now entering a stage where they have working products and are engaging in executing real campaigns.

Blockchain technology is not just another database, as many would like to believe, but a combination of distributed data, cryptography, consensus mechanisms, payment methods, and smart contracts over which decentralized applications allow an ecosystem to record and validate transactions without the need for an intermediary. To support the industry, we have identified the following areas to understand and adopt blockchain technology:

  • Education by demystifying the technology via events and explainer documents – this will be an ongoing process.
  • Network Pilots to provide a real-world mechanism to test blockchain applications and services, several of which are in progress.
  • Standards to ensure interoperability and enabling scalable systems. We have started work on defining standards.

Today, we want to thank the working group participants for putting together the first set of explainer documents being released:

  1. Blockchain Technology Primer developed by working group participants to help explain blockchain technology components and how they can potentially be applied to the business of digital advertising
  2. Blockchain Resources Wiki is a curated list of resources to learn and gain more in-depth knowledge about technology, legal aspects, currency, open source projects, and companies building blockchain-based products for the advertising industry. This will be a living resource updated continually by the working group

As part of continuing education, we concluded a live member event on July 17 that demonstrated 7 working blockchain products, covered details on cryptocurrency and smart contracts, and perspectives on applying blockchain technology to advertising from 8 company founders, as well as from agencies and brands.

The working group has laid out the following key initiatives for future:

  • Continue with educational events and explainer documents as necessary
  • Focus on consumer privacy, identity and data management, transparency in transactions, smart contracts and understanding data stored on blockchains
  • Work on developing standards to enable scalable adoption of blockchain in advertising

We encourage the industry to participate in the network pilots led by Lucidity, MetaX, Kochava XCHNG, and FusionSeven and “learn by doing” to help solve some of the lingering challenges in digital advertising. Network pilots will lead us into understanding the requirements for industry standards as well as defining best practices for adoption of blockchain technology for digital advertising.

You can learn more about the network pilots and engage with industry leaders spearheading blockchain adoption in digital advertising by joining the working group.

Download the Blockchain Technology Primer

View the Blockchain Resources Wiki






Shailley Singh, Head of Product Management, IAB Tech Lab