A mobile ad network called Kiip is working with the company behind brews Budweiser and Stella Artois to show the advertising industry how blockchain can potentially address longstanding fraud and transparency issues.

San Francisco-based Kiip is delivering ads for AB InBev into mobile apps according to when consumers might be most receptive to them. Someone using a fitness app, for instance, might receive an ad suggesting that she enjoy a beer after finishing a long-distance run. All the data about an ad campaign’s performance, however — such as how many people looked at it, how long they looked and whether they clicked on it — will be recorded in Single Ledger, a blockchain product Kiip has developed specifically for advertising.

Kiip is betting that blockchain’s ability to protect data from alteration will be welcomed by companies that advertise online but are concerned they’re not receiving accurate information about their digital campaigns. In April, a provider of mobile attribution technology called Adjust said rates of mobile ad fraud, where brands are told their ads performed well despite going largely unseen, have nearly doubled since last year.

Truth in (Digital) Advertising

Given that many marketers work with a variety of ad agencies, ad networks and tech firms, it has become increasingly difficult for them to verify with certainty that they haven’t thrown their money away, Brian Wong, Kiip’s founder and CEO, tells ThirtyK. Campaign data can come from multiple sources, but Wong hopes to build an ecosystem of players, including demand-side platform (DSP) firms that will all use Single Ledger. One DSP, AppNexus, has committed to coming on board in the future.

“The biggest positive about blockchain … is its immutability,” Wong says. “If I was working with campaign data four years ago and you wanted to look at it 30 days later, I could have done anything I wanted with it. With blockchain, once I record it, it’s one and done.”

No Spring Chicken

Kiip is not a blockchain startup; it has been in business since 2010. Wong says the company’s focus has always been on helping brands make sure they are getting the biggest bang for their advertising buck by having ads appear in a relevant context rather than interrupting the experience of playing a game or using a mobile app. The executive says that late last year he realized blockchain could offer real value to Kiip’s clients.

“If I were to start Kiip today in 2018, we would have been built on blockchain,” he says. “When you look across most ad spending and all the players in the supply chain, if they can save 0.5 percent (in reduced fraud), it means millions of dollars for them.”

AB InBev could not be reached for comment by publication time, but in a news release, Lucas Herscovici, an AB InBev marketing executive, said, “This campaign will increase transparency in programmatic ad buying and support the ways our brands earn consumers’ attention.”

Kiip plans to release the code behind Single Ledger to the open-source community so that others in the ad industry can develop similar tools to verify campaign data.

“We’re using this announcement as a catalyst,” Wong says. “Someone has to show the industry that it’s possible. Then we think this will create some momentum.”

Shane Schick
Shane Schick is veteran journalist who covers lifestyle, business and technology issues. He is the editor-in-chief of the Canada-based B2B News Network and Chair of the 2018 Blockchain Summit in Canada.