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Unit incubated at Comcast's FreeWheel ad-tech unit and mix of partners are pushing ahead with blockchain-powered techniques as the adoption of data-driven TV advertising nears a tipping point.

Jeff Baumgartner

May 30, 2019

3 Min Read
Blockgraph Braces for Data Wave About to Hit TV Advertising

Using data to fuel advertising planning and ad targeting has been a staple of the digital world for years and is now poised to make a significant impact on the TV ad ecosystem. However, that shift is also happening amid some major concerns about how to properly protect that data as well as the privacy of the consumers that are being targeted.

To offer some important assistance in this area and bring a proper layer of trust to the table as TV advertising becomes more data-driven and targeted via traditional set-top boxes and a broad mix of Internet-powered mobile and TV-connected devices, an initiative that employs some blockchain techniques called Blockgraph was recently established. It originated out of Comcast and was incubated at FreeWheel, the ad-tech company that Comcast acquired in 2014.

At CES in January, Blockgraph began to discuss its platform in more detail, noting that it is using blockchain techniques and protocols to decentralize the peer-to-peer TV data ecosystem and network.It is also using blockchain to enable partners to run common software and build a shared identity layer between components of the advertising ecosystem without exposing sensitive competitor or consumer-specific information.

In addition to aid from Comcast and FreeWheel, Blockgraph has managed to gain participation and support from other big names, including Viacom, Spectrum Reach (Charter's ad sales division) and Pubitalia (the ad unit of Italy's Mediaset).

Fast-forwarding to today, Blockgraph has issued a study showing that data-driven TV advertising is on the cusp of reaching a "tipping point" that will require new ad-tech systems that can use and properly protect all of that critical data.

While just 20% of TV ad budgets were "data enabled" in 2018, that number is expected to reach 29% this year and rise to about 40% in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of more than 40%, the study found. It's based on a survey of 150 agency and ad execs that Blockgraph commissioned from Advertiser Perceptions in April.

Data enabled, in this instance, includes the use of data to plan, target and analyze advertising campaigns.

However, trust in how that data is accessed, used and protected remains a big concern among bigwigs in the TV ad industry.

According to the study, a majority of ad execs surveyed said consumer privacy protection, transparency in how their data is being used, and disclosing confidential or sensitive information to competitors and data breaches are all concerns about the new age of TV advertising. Meanwhile, just 5% said they had no concerns about sharing data with media partners.

Figure 1: Source: Blockgraph Source: Blockgraph

"The findings confirmed that advertisers are eager to bring additional data to TV, similar to their use of data in digital media," Jason Manningham, Blockgraph's GM, said in a statement. "So, while they are bringing more data to TV, the growth, albeit growing, is actually tempered a bit by today's challenges."

Blockgraph, of course, believes its collaborative approach in establishing a safe "identity layer" for the TV industry can help to overcome those challenges.

And the TV ad industry will need to adopt more data-based models as advertising spend continues to seep into the digital.

While TV still accounts for 30% of total ad spend, according to Magna Global's Winter 2018 report, the digital ad market, home to the kind of targeted, data-fueled advertising capabilities that the TV industry is seeking, continues to gather ground.

The global digital ad spend is poised to surpass $300 billion in 2019, and rise to $400 billion by 2020, per eMarketer stats. As a group that represents a growing threat to traditional TV ad market, Google, Facebook and Amazon are expected to account for 54% of that global digital ad spend.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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