TAG completes Distributed Ledger Technology pilot

Posted on: Monday 07 September 2020 | IAB UK

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) have conducted a cross-industry pilot programme to evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to increase trust and transparency in digital advertising

The pilot, which was launched by JICWEBS last year, prior to its merger with TAG, included participants from major brands like Nestlé, Telefonica/O2, McDonald’s, Virgin Media and Johnson & Johnson; agencies like GroupM, Havas, IPG, Mindshare, OMD, and Zenith; and more than 15 prominent ad tech providers and publishers spanning nearly every segment of the supply chain.

TAG partnered with London-based tech business FIDUCIA for the pilot, which ran from July 2019 to July 2020 and included 20 data feeds spanning Demand Side Platforms, Supply Side Platforms, Content Verification Tools, and publishers. The pilot analysed 112 million impressions worth £1.4 million across 127 campaigns.

The results of the pilot helped demonstrate the potential of DLT for:

Supply Chain Transparency – Despite log level data availability and inconsistency issues, the TAG DLT Pilot successfully validated the use of a DLT platform as a unified data and reporting layer for the industry. DLT harmonises impression log level data to a common format, automates data access management, ensures data immutability, security and privacy - data recorded in the ledger is only be accessed on a need-to-know basis via encryption keys under the control of the data provider - and streamlines the access to supply chain reconciled log level data via a single API.

Supply Chain Optimisation – The pilot allowed participants to validate the execution of campaigns against a set of metrics reconciled among multiple vendors including discrepancies, measurability, viewability, brand safety or fraud prevention metrics. The focus of the pilot was more on the validation and reconciliation of impressions against qualitative and quantitative metrics and less on the financial values.

Operational Efficiencies – The DLT platform successfully tested how smart contracts can automate business processes between ad buyers and sellers providing significant operational efficiencies. Research conducted with agencies indicated that programmatic teams spend up to 60% of their time downloading, formatting and reconciling data, compared with just 20% analysing it. Additionally, 59% of respondents thought campaign reporting and reconciliation would benefit most from automation.

To further evaluate both the opportunities and challenges facing a DLT industry consortium network, TAG plans to launch an industry consultation to share detailed information about the initiative and give stakeholders across the industry the opportunity to give their input to determine how best to move forward.

Commenting on the results, Jules Kendrick, Managing Director UK & Europe for TAG, said: “Building a more transparent ecosystem requires both innovation and collaboration, and this pilot has demonstrated our industry’s commitment to working together to quickly and thoroughly evaluate new technologies. Our pilot showed promising opportunities for a DLT platform, including the potential to achieve a ‘Shared Truth’ where the same data is recognized as valid and accurate across the supply chain. We look forward to expanding our consultative efforts to help ensure that every participant in the supply chain can be sure that ‘what you see is what I see.’”

Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG, added: “While DLT is still in its early stages, we believe this pilot not only highlights the potential for this type of technology but also the importance of working with stakeholders across industry to evaluate and find consensus on common standards.

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