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Is Adland Ready for Blockchain? (Hint, No)

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INFLUENCER: Blockchain technology will only be useful if it’s at our service, says Feed's Borja Escriva de Romani

Is Adland Ready for Blockchain? (Hint, No)

Blockchain has been the buzzword for quite a while in leading innovation articles and business gatherings around the globe. Funnily enough, many people still struggle to understand what it is, the power that it holds and why some gurus call it the next business revolution. If I had to explain to my five year old son - what it is and why I like it - I would say it’s a system that ensures people are nice and don’t lie to each other.

Obviously, the mechanics that make it work are way more complex but in essence, this new technology brings honesty and trustworthiness into any process. The key to this achievement (unfortunately for humanity and adland) is removing the human element that regulates the transactions, preventing any possibility of corruption or ‘creative accounting’ in the system. 

I have seen many examples of how different industries are already using blockchain to ensure compliance, from charities offering transparency in how donations reach the right place and not the wrong pockets, to spaceship builders to keep track of the thousands of components and suppliers involved in every single project, to make sure deadlines and quality tests are met. 

The fact is our industry moves a lot of money, so it’s highly likely that blockchain will disrupt our more traditional ways of doing things too. This irruption will throw up new questions while it resolves many of the classic issues that have dogged the industry for decades. Notably, we will need to revise how the different roles that form part of the ad machine process interact, especially when it comes to agency-client relationships. 

There are many factors that have moved us away from being the golden egg factory to the terminally ill industry that we self-medicate nowadays. But if we look back at the root of the crisis, we discover how the breakdown of trust in our ways of working, and the high-handed attitude attached to everything with a creative tag, are the two main factors responsible. These two bad boys, combined with the digital capability of measuring results accurately, ended up being an eye opener for most advertisers, shaking the whole industry as a result. 

Funnily enough, blockchain, another digital solution, may force the trust back into the industry once and for all. There is a near-future where the actual hours spent on a project will be properly billed to a client and so, paid to the staff accordingly. Perhaps the whole agency remuneration may change in favour of actual work and people involved, instead of the percentage of production model. What if the creative process was tracked from brief to completion? Even more, what if we could keep track of the chain of feedback as it was delivered? And it was binding? 

Would we see awards ceremonies with work that was genuinely ordered, bought and published by an actual client? Authenticity is guaranteed as every step of the campaign development and delivery would be trackable. Will this create a new breed of media agency where the media spend is truly transparent and based on performance, not bonus payments, friendships or favours? It looks like blockchain might be the paradigm of a fair future for those who want to adopt it.

However, whilst blockchain would help with the admin, can we completely dehumanise the creative process which is so inherently human? Surely mutations drive evolution? Is it not thanks to the rule-breakers that the most creative campaigns see the light of the day? Will blockchain handcuff those rebels and merely add suffocating restrictions of boredom and accountability to an already alienated industry? 

Blockchain technology, like AI or any other, will only be useful if it’s at our service, shining a light on the industry to create a fairer environment to do what we do best. So, if that means applying a technology that will make us more thoughtful, accountable and nicer to each other, whilst removing some of those liars from the playground, then blockchain I salute you. Long live blockchain!



Borja Escriva de Romani is creative director Feed

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Feed, Fri, 30 Nov 2018 14:05:41 GMT