NEW YORK: IBM, the tech company, has helped Unilever, the consumer packaged goods manufacturer, test the potential of the blockchain to tackle several problems that currently shape the media-buying process.

Babs Rangaiah, executive partner/global marketing at iX, the digital consulting arm of IBM, discussed this topic at BRITE 2018, a conference held by The Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School.

Having previously worked at Unilever in positions linked to marketing and innovation before assuming his present role nearly two years ago, Rangaiah quickly noted the applicability of IBM’s blockchain offering to media-buying.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God! This is built exactly for the kind of issues we were facing in our marketing group – and our media-buying group – around transparency and trust’,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Unilever and IBM apply the blockchain to media buying.)

“So, I called up my old team at Unilever, and we got together, and built the first-ever blockchain for media-buying.”

As a distributed ledger for transactions, the blockchain could theoretically provide a clear chronology of media activity that is approved by all parties, rather than relying on a single gatekeeper to generate data.

Such capabilities are extremely appealing at a time when marketers have seen an increase in non-working media spend, as the amount of middle men in the digital advertising space has grown.

Equally, it is difficult to obtain accurate measurement readouts today, as different partners frequently employ their own definitions and methodologies in campaign-tracking.

Rangaiah was bullish about the long-term prospects for addressing these roadblocks with the blockchain, even though this approach remains at a nascent developmental stage.

“We’re learning a lot already. Certainly, the client – the Unilever team – has learned a lot even on its own media-buying in practice, the number of players in it, and what they’re doing, and the sheer transparency of it,” he said.

“Yesterday, it was seamless. Today it’s a million players. And, tomorrow, we’ll have the immutability, the trust, the traceability.”

Sourced from WARC