Unilever pilots Blockchain for advertising


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In a recent report by Campaign and as reported on LedgerInsights, Unilever said it completed a blockchain pilot for tracking advertising spend, with “zero leakage” in media investments. It wants to scale up the solution.

Unilever is part of a consortium for ad-buying blockchain solutions along with ad software company Mediaocean, Kimberly-Clark, Pfizer and IBM Watson Advertising.

One of the biggest problems with calculating digital advertising spend is reconciliation. With several intermediaries who provide varied digital services, it becomes difficult to track the money spent – hence the term digital media supply chain. It is estimated that intermediaries take about 60% of the funds that brands pay for ad-buying. In 2014, the Internet Advertising Bureau gave a figure of 50% plus.

But this is not the only issue, as middlemen also make the digital media supply chain opaque. This creates a problem to calculate how much of the advertising spend drove revenue growth. And it’s transparency that Unilever is seeking.

We assume the zero leakage refers to the ability to reconcile 100% of the ad spend to sites and the results.

When the consortium formed initially, the stated aim was to cut down the number of intermediaries. But Unilever was keen to emphasize that it wants to work with media agencies.

“We truly believe in a world where we maximize and leverage all our Unilever scale while using the expertise, processes and technology that our partners bring,” said Luis Di Como, EVP for global media at Unilever.

And Unilever stated this was not a cost-cutting exercise. That’s just as well given Campaign quoted IBM estimated the savings as only 2-3%.

“It’s about finding better ways of doing things and releasing capacity to invest more in strategy, communications and media investment,” said Di Como.

Unilever has been working with IBM to develop the advertising blockchain solution. The project is being built on top of Mediaocean’s existing platform, which already processes over $140 billion in ad spend.

Last year, Unilever-backed startup Blis announced a pilot advertising location blockchain to record source of data.

In its 2019 hype cycle for digital marketing and advertising, Gartner said blockchain for advertising was a rising trend. Gartner describes blockchain as having “tremendous promise” for marketers.

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