Distributed ledger technology (DLT) – blockchain, more commonly – has the potential to play a catalysing role in areas like machine learning and artificial intelligence as well as in addressing frictions in the digital adtech ecosystem, according to a new report.

Blockchain & Marketing: technology design considerations for implementation, published today by GroupM, highlights the management of digital identities and the provision of supply chain transparency as two particular areas of interest.

“DLT should be able to provide a cryptographically assured trust mechanism for distributed identity management, data permissions and distributed consent management,” the report says.

At the same time, it has application in an increasingly complex programmatic ecosystem, where marketers can find it difficult to track their data and dollars across the consumer journey.

Not only are authentication and authorisation are now critical to advertising because of privacy-focused laws, but advertisers face growing cost pressures and questions about working versus non-working media.

“Demands for greater efficiency are evergreen in advertising,” the report acknowledges, “but the volume is intensifying. DLT is seen as a possible solution.”

But it’s important to understand that DLT is not a silver bullet that spells the end of digital ad fraud, for example.

“If an ad impression is delivered on a fraudulent site by a legitimate ad server and written to a blockchain record, that record may not be tampered with,” the report points out. “Other data feeds (oracles) will be required to identify that the original impression was invalid, similar to the way third-party verification providers are used today.”

Nor do all business situations require a blockchain/DLT-led solution. “Often, a simple or distributed database-led solution is more than enough,” GroupM observes, as it counsels looking beyond the blockchain hype.

The whole DLT concept can be difficult to grasp and GroupM suggests that its role in the immediate future can be likened to that of cheap consumer broadband in enabling mass-market videoconferencing technology: only after consumers could economically obtain high-speed, high-bandwidth internet connections did video chat services become widespread.

“Today, for applications like applied machine learning and artificial intelligence, blockchain and other DLTs may play a similar catalysing role,” it says.

Sourced from GroupM; additional content by WARC staff