“Is it just buzz?” That’s the question Erich Wasserman, co-founder, head of strategic business development at MediaMath used to open an Advertising Week session on blockchain. The answer, from panelists Isaac Lidsky, founder/CEO of Underscore CLT, a blockchain company MediaMath incubated, and Chad Andrews, global solutions leader for advertising and blockchain at IBM, was an emphatic “No.”
Unlike other overhyped technologies, blockchain has some compelling real-world uses. Andrews said blockchain can revolutionize the supply chain by offering a trusted, common version of truth. For instance, a single container of flowers traveling from Madagascar to Rotterdam could have 200 pieces of paper from 30 organizations attached to it. IBM has since digitized the process.
What blew Andrews’ mind was that the World Trade Organization estimates that if the practice was used worldwide, it could raise the world’s GDP by 5%. “Did you say that’s a $3 trillion use case?” Andrews asked.
Blockchain isn’t just for shipping. The idea of providing a final, immutable record has appeal for many industries, including advertising. Lidsky said that blockchain can be used to enforce the rules between buyers and sellers of advertising “and also guarantee that they’re talking to who they think they’re talking to and that they’re buying what they think they’re buying.”
Lidsky added that blockchain isn’t another layer of technology or complexity but a wholesale change. “At this point, it represents an opportunity to change the way business is done,” he said.
Andrews cautioned though that the industry must work harder before it achieves that vision. “If you expect an infant to ride a bike, you’re going to be disappointed,” he said.