To those looking for a closer integration of blockchain technology in ad tech, I would say that it is promising on paper but there are practical problems in implementations that will keep it from becoming fully integrated for at least five years. That said, there are specific places where this technology can be relevant within two to three years.
Let’s start with the negatives. One immediate roadblock to the quick adoption of blockchain is that it is still much slower and less responsive than current ad tech industry standards demand. Current ad load times are around 489 milliseconds in the United States. Using blockchain technology to serve ads would result in much longer load times, which would mean a disastrous experience for consumers.
Another issue with blockchain is that in order to work, all of the players in a chain need to use the same protocols. Think about how many middlemen the ad tech industry has, and how difficult it would be to get each and every one of these companies using the same protocols. It will take years at best, and lots of industry consolidation, to get everyone on board with blockchain.
But just because there are challenges doesn’t mean that blockchain technology shouldn’t be in the ad tech conversation. On the positive side, many problems that our industry currently faces – fraud, transparency, measurement, privacy issues – are ones that blockchain could theoretically help solve in a major way. A primary example would be using blockchain as a fraud protection tool, to identify bot versus human traffic, ensuring the legitimacy of all clicks or views. Blockchain could also solve questions around privacy and data. With blockchain’s concept of having ownership over digital material, a protocol could be developed that allows data to be shared with and used by other vendors without its details being copied to those vendors, for example.
My advice for now is for ad tech to look to solve realistic problems with specific blockchain-inspired protocols. Then, when blockchain evolves, we can have a more serious discussion on how to fully integrate this technology into our industry.