VENICE, CALIF.—The future of advertising on television and video needs a reality check. Privacy breaches, fraudulent metrics, fake reviews, questionable data analytics, loss of trust between the platforms and the brands—the complexity of advertising on TV and video content continues to gain momentum in 2018 with very few points of light in the chaos. It’s not news that the current digital media ecosystem is rife with these problems; a landscape heavily marked by a confluence of players, not just the creators and viewers, but also by the middlemen and their respective financial interests.
Since data has become equal to currency in the media environment, there has been a shift in society’s outlook on privacy. With eyes on the proverbial prize of user data, a marked decline in regard for user privacy has come to the forefront—a fact that has led to a culture with little or no regard for audience privacy.
EROSION OF USER CONTROL
We’ve all seen this movie before. Say you’re looking at an online forum for weight loss. Consequently, and paradoxically, you’ll be the first one targeted by junk food companies who are going to assume you have been, or will continue to be, a major consumer of their products. While users often give consent by checking a box, it is not really “informed consent.” They’ll say “yes” to get to the next screen or to download the new app, but they probably don’t fully understand the degree to which they’re sacrificing their privacy. This creates an ecosystem where users have little control over their own data and how that data is used and monetized.
Fortunately, there is a solution to the erosion of user control. Blockchain technology can be leveraged to safeguard user privacy, thereby restoring trust between viewers, advertisers, and content creators. I’m certainly not saying that you can simply take a jar full of blockchain and just smear it on everything to fix the problem. However, just as blockchain is being employed to transform the healthcare industry by eliminating the middlemen, the correct use of the best technologies available can do the same for the media landscape by utilizing tokenization.
By creating direct relationships between the advertisers and the viewers, tokenization can support the formation of direct avenues for data and value exchange between advertisers, consumers, and content creators. The elimination of intermediary platforms means that all parties can retain more value, because no percentage of transactions is being captured by third parties. Additionally, such peer-to-peer interactions are drastically more streamlined than the complex webs of media players seen today. In a win-win, advertisers earn greater return on their investments while users gain more control over their data.
The process of tokenization, or the monetization of trackable actions, takes the evolution of this ecosystem one step further to include viewers among those benefiting economically. In other words, users can make money simply by watching and engaging with their favorite TV and video content.
HOW DOES THIS WORK IN PRACTICE?
During a show, viewers are prompted with a call to action to participate in some way with the content they are watching. Viewers can respond to the call to action directly on the device on which they are watching the content or, if they are viewing on their TV, through the app on their phone. Once viewers sign up to begin earning rewards, they can interact with specific elements of the show or commercial and accumulate tokens, provided by the advertisers, for their time and attention. These tokens have real-world value and can then be used to buy other goods and services within the ecosystem, most importantly connecting viewing habits directly to purchase data.
The fact that on-screen graphics containing tokens can be applied to any TV or video content on any screen means that, not just the viewers, but all participants in the media ecosystem, including ad agencies, TV networks, and brands can benefit from tokenization. A particular viewer may decide to keep her medical and financial records private but make information about her favorite hobbies available to advertisers. By allowing advertisers to see that she enjoys travel and cooking, she’s not only likely to see more relevant (and less annoying) ads, but with tokenization, she will earn rewards for her loyalty and engagement.
Historically, brands and content providers have needed to sort through multiple disparate data sources to make conjectures about which TV and video content led to purchase and ROI. By employing tokenization, content providers would no longer need to guess about what is working and what isn’t, as tokens boldly connect the dotted lines between viewing habits and product purchases.
If employed effectively in the TV and video industry, tokenization of content built on blockchain technology could form the foundation for a new digital order wherein all parties benefit from improved efficiency, transparency, and security.
Gavin Douglas, the CEO of iPowow and the HIT Protocol, is an award winning media producer and TV format developer with 20 years experience in TV content production and new format development. iPowow is an established leader in interactive TV and is launching the HIT Protocol to tokenize linear television and VOD using smart contracts and blockchain technology.