PALM SPRINGS, Calif – Behind Unilever’s public demand for greater trust on digital platforms is an ambitious plan by the global marketer to embrace blockchain technology. Its first step is to build a private blockchain to begin cleaning up the digital media supply chain, with its preponderance of middlemen and conflicting numbers.
“Blockchain was built exactly for that kind of friction in a supply chain,” says Babs Rangaiah, Executive Partner, Global Marketing, at marketing services provider IBM iX, which is assisting Unilever in the blockchain project.
Unilever’s effort will come in several phases, the first “in the next few months” being reconciliation of digital data—from measurement to viewability and everything possible in between.
“One of the things that happens when you have so many middlemen is discrepancies become rampant,” Rangaiah says in this interview with Beet.TV at the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Leadership Meeting, following a presentation by Unilever Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Keith Weed. “And so you typically can’t reconcile that until the end of a flight, and by then it’s a mess. What blockchain does is allow you a single, unified view of how that media buy occurred, and there’s one number.”
Ultimately, Unilever would like to “put the payment system directly into the blockchain for a seamless buy” before moving on to using the technology in the real-time-bidding of digital ad inventory.
Another sought-after benefit is the high-quality, first-party, encrypted consumer data that blockchain will enable. The goal would be that “each member of a blockchain has the appropriate key for the data they can see, but the real advantage of the system is that you’ll get laser targeting like we are not able to do today.”
Even farther down the road, Unilever could use blockchain for various iterations of television media, including over-the-top, “bringing that all together and really putting a whole media buy through blockchain.”
In referencing Weed’s remarks to the IAB attendees, in which the CMO threatened to pull ad dollars from tech platforms that create societal division or don’t protect children, Rangaiah cites the term “In brands we trust.” He believes what will “improve and enable advertising to move forward is to get that trust back in the supply chain and that’s what blockchain does. This is a great solution.”
This video is part of a series covering the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. The series is sponsored by AppNexus. Please visit this page for more coverage.