The Comcast advertising unit today announced that it is working with Spectrum Reach and Viacom on a blockchain-based display that will help it better match audience data with advertisers in a way that is consistent with privacy for targeting on-screen ads.
This new initiative, called "Blockgraph," includes an "identity layer" where media owners can offer audience targeting to advertisers on a large scale in a way that ensures the privacy of their viewers and also helps protect them from data leakage.
This is possible because all Blockgraph data remain on their own systems, where the identity layer acts effectively as a firewall that allows advertisers to verify the audience they are looking for in a way that means that media owners are not forced to expose commercially sensitive audience data.
Planning for the initiative began in 2017 before the launch of the beta program earlier this year and was incubated in the FreeWheel specialized software unit, before the 2019 launch entirely with partners, including Spectrum Reach, Viacom and a range of MVPD players to be publicly announced on Later.
Jason Manningham, general manager of Blockgraph, told ADWEC that the scheme is geared towards public awareness. Previous means of targeting the public led by data included the use of third parties to provide a blind match.
By contrast, Blockgraph is a peer-to-peer platform that allows participants to perform directly-dried games using cryptographic techniques that generate non-definable data and use blockchain protocols. Additional attributes are matched with encrypted Blockgraph IDs.
"Marketers are under pressure from their financial officials to spend the budget efficiently and prove the return on investment," Manningham said. "In order to do this, they need to find their most valuable customers, reach them efficiently and analyze their effectiveness in their campaigns."
Blockgraph helps advertisers use a closed loop that ensures public data security, unlike other platforms like walled gardens in the media industry.
"A handful of digital media and platform companies receive and retain most of the data and are becoming increasingly valuable to the marketer," Manningham said. "However, this also comes at a cost because once the marketer detects his client list of those platforms, they lose control."
Targeting capabilities on platforms like fenced gardens means spending on digital advertising exceeded spending on television in 2017, according to eMarketer. Manningham acknowledged that the traditional nature of audience data in the television sector made it difficult for media buyers to target the masses on a large scale. However, it is unlikely that the TV audience will be concentrated or aggregated due to concerns about privacy and competitiveness, and his company uses a decentralized ledger to help solve this problem.
"You do not really need to centralize all the data to get a common understanding of an audience and you see the same people," he said.
Denise Colella, a premium advertising product and strategy at Comcom-NBCUniversal owned by Comcast, spoke with Adweek about how technology can be used to treat mass media.
"We use Open AP as a shared exchange [to sell inventory]"We can see that Blockgraph has become an element in an open AP," she said. "It is clear that nothing has been identified yet, but it can act as a mechanism for providing data to [advertising] exchange."
"This targeting to the public is already available, but it is expensive, expensive and slow," said Kern Sherison, chief data officer at Viacom. "Such technologies can enable the company to reduce ad load time without having to sacrifice revenues, .
"So, like any good enabling technology, we believe Blockgraph will actually allow us to decorate advanced ad impressions with the right data from all relevant partners in a transparent, efficient and personalized way."