Ad tech, blockchain and travel – a new area for disruption (or not)
Industry first alert! “The very first blockchain-based auction for advertising inventory” is taking place and involves a travel media business selling space on one million printed-at-home boarding passes for a major airline.
AdEx Network describes itself as a “a decentralized ad network” and has linked up with Ink Global, a travel media business with interests ranging from hard-copy inflight magazines to targetted ads on travel documents, apps and websites. It works with more than 20 airlines worldwide.
Ink says that passengers look at their “[printed] boarding passes at least four times” making it “one of the most effective media spaces”.
A Medium blog post from AdEx explains that the auction “will be executed on the Ethereum network via the AdEx mainnet exchange…” and while AdEx is handling the auction, Ink and the unnamed airline “will have final decision in accepting or rejecting bids, as well as all advertising creatives.”
The post makes some bold claims, with AdEx saying the tie-up is “a huge step forward in the reshaping of the online advertising landscape”.
Marketing materials posted onto the AdEx homepage are equally bullish, with claims that AdEx will “disrupt the existing online advertising landscape and address its significant problems: advertising fraud, privacy and consent to receiving sponsored messages, etc.
And there is an animated YouTube video summarising what it does
The extent to which blockchain can be truly disruptive is still the subject of much debate. At a tnooz-hosted session at WTM London earlier this month, Kevin O’Sullivan, lead engineer at SITA Lab, suggested that blockchain could have as big an impact on B2B as the web had on B2C, although that is unlikely to start happening until at least five years down the line.
Ad tech could be in the blockchain firing line as it is a B2B function which relies on a series of intermediaries. AdEx Network seems to think that digital advertising can operate without the intermediaries and that its blockchain-based exchange is a viable alternative.
The tie-up with Ink is an interesting first step but there is a world of difference between producing a snazzy YouTube video and building a successful business using a technology which, let’s face it, currently has significantly more use cases than case studies. Although it might be worth noting that people were probably saying similar things in 1996 when a business called Microsoft Expedia Travel Services debuted on the web.