NEW YORK: Blockchain technology has been around for several years but is now beginning to make waves in advertising and media where it holds out the promise of a solution to many of the ills that beset the digital world while also challenging the position of the industry's giants.

Blockchain has been compared to the double-entry accounting system that first appeared in Europe in the 15th century and on which modern business has been built. "Essentially, a Blockchain is a distributed ledger built for the digital world," is how Blockchain News puts it, "a distributed digital ledger, where all participants can see the data and all transactions entered into the common log".

As such, it has implications for issues around transparency and beyond, being capable of verifying ad delivery and communicating more personalized communications without breaching privacy laws.

"There's an opportunity here to shift the balance of power," according to Adam Helfgott, CEO of MadHive, a company that enables brands and publishers to measure customer intent data across platforms using blockchain technology.

"Publishers need to share data in a safe way," he told a recent conference reported by Advertising Age. "They could build up targeting capabilities that are on par with Facebook and Google" – and in doing so could claim a bigger share of the $10bn digital ad industry those two currently dominate.

In a similar setting, Helfgott recently explained that "The data from first, second and third parties are brought together for targeting and companies want to move it and act on it, across platforms and devices using the rules they already have in place.

"Using smart contracts governed by a private Blockchain, you can actually track everything that is going through the supply chain much more effectively and transparently."

There is also an upside for consumers, says Jean Paul Edwards, strategy and product director at OMD EMEA. In an article for Warc he explained how "personal data can be held within a blockchain and relevant sections can be shared with the right brands.

"Purchases such as a car, or even a barbecue, could be shared with trusted brands who can let you know about associated services and goods that are right for you – from insurance to patio gas."

Blockchain is most famously the technology behind bitcoin, the digital currency which last week hit a record high value of $1,200 amid speculation the first bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) to be issued in the United States is set to receive regulatory approval.

Data sourced from Advertising Age, Digiday, Blockchain News, CNBC; additional content by Warc staff