Could Blockchain Solve the Multi-Billion Dollar Problem of Digital Advertising Fraud?

With the success of Blockchain technologies in preventing the double-spend issue[1] in cryptocurrency, a new technology company is applying this approach to stem the incredible rise in digital advertising fraud.

The rise and rise of fake views

Last year saw digital advertising secure its dominance of the global marketing industry, overtaking worldwide TV sales for the first time. Reports from PwC and IPG Mediabrands’ Magna put digital ad sales at just over $70 bln, ahead of televised ad sales at $67 bln. With an abundance opportunities for profit, however, comes an abundance of opportunities for fraud with bots being used to falsify ad viewing data.

More conservative estimations of $7.2 bln dollars wasted on digital marketing fraud from the Association of National Advertisers in 2016 pale in comparison to the $16.4 bln estimated for 2017 by multinational advertising company WPP. This is a multi-billion dollar problem that is showing no signs of slowing down.

Enter ClearCoin[2], who are in their own words ‘a technology company that powers the real-time buying and selling of media on decentralized applications and the broader digital environment.’ According to their white paper[3], ClearCoin have created a ‘revolutionary’ solution. ‘The proof-of-history Blockchain will use a ledger to record all digital advertising impressions that it has access to.

The ledger will serve to separate real ad impressions from fraudulent ones. The information will be a security layer against fraud in the ecosystem.’ This ledger will allow ClearCoin to advise companies on publishers which are more likely to provide fraudulent results, saving them time and effort from being wasted on fake views.

Stellar lineup

With a reported 10,000 plus registered users and an ICO in which token sales are reportedly upwards of $3 mln (with the token sale ending March 31, 2018), digital advertisers are clearly sensing a potentially game-changing fraud buster. And the formidable lineup of ClearCoin’s staff could be another factor pushing marketers towards their services; recent press releases have enthusiastically declared new advisor David Drake a ‘cryptocurrency veteran.’ That is not to detract from the considerable knowledge and expertise of the small but vastly experienced team which also boasts tech expert Jay Singh as its founder and CEO.

Looking ahead

ClearCoin wants their technology to become industry standard. They aim for June 2018 to be when ‘the user interface is available for all users to execute their media buys,’ and December 2018 the projected date for the proof-of-history ledger to be made available for the public to explore. ClearCoin is keen to point out that their team have already worked with ‘the largest advertisers and media agencies in the world,’ and hope to mostly grow through peer recommendations, by providing a service that genuinely works and saves money.

It may all sound a tad optimistic and idealized. But the billions of dollars leaking from digital marketing through fraud every year need to be recaptured quickly. Perhaps 2018 will be the year that ClearCoin can help provide the tools to patch this extremely costly leak.

Katharine Sharpe

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