GDPR “helps transparency” and “honesty”: Brendan Eich, Rafal Szymanski and Sam Kim on Digital Advertising in 2018

When thinking of industries which could potentially benefit from decentralization and distributed ledger technology, digital advertising and marketing may not be the first to come to mind.

When looking at a list created for Forbes by Bernard Marr entitled ‘Here Are 10 Industries Blockchain Is Likely To Disrupt’ published July 2018, for example, these sectors didn’t even feature.

Despite this, there have been some prominent examples of blockchain based solutions that focus on the space. Both in the form of currently released tokens, as well as forthcoming projects and ICOs.

1. Brendan Eich, Founder of Basic Attention Token (BAT)

Basic Attention Token (or ‘BAT’) has been the subject of a large volume of press since its launch last year for a myriad of reasons, not least due to the success of the coin itself and its ICO. BAT has recently suffered like the rest of the cryptocurrency market, and yet still resides at a respectable 32nd place in the CoinMarketCap ‘top 100’ listings on its homepage.

A large reason for its success can be attributed in part due to the fact that it was created by much of the same team behind Brave: a free, open source web browser which supports mobile platforms iOS and Android. It’s also available on Windows, macOS and Linux.

The Brave browser incorporates ad-blocking software with the intention of reducing unwanted and intrusive marketing. The result is a promised increase in browsing speed, in addition to options for users to anonymously support their favourite websites.

Behind and within both teams sits Brendan Eich, best known as the creator of renowned and highly popular programming language JavaScript.

In September 2018, Eich wrote a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. According to the Brave website the letter, in summary, stated that “the character of GDPR is congruent with the United States’ understanding of privacy,”

More recently, in an interview with German marketing paper Horizont (46/2018, 15th November 2018) Brendan Eich took a shot at one of the most dominant forces in digital advertising at present – Google. In the piece, he stated that:

“All information from which the user’s digital fingerprint could be reconstructed remains on the user’s computer. And we go so far in this strategy that even at Brave we do not want this data… we believe that Google’s ‘Don’t be evil’ must be supplemented by a ‘Cannot be Evil’ policy urgently.”

2. Rafal Szymanski, Founder of EasyVisual and Global Tech Makers

EasyVisual is a mobile advertising network and Global Tech Makers (website under construction) is a company which “actively develops IT products in the B2B and B2C sectors.” We reached out to the founder of these companies, Rafal Szymanski, recently about digital advertising.

Specifically regarding GDPR, Szymanski stated that he believes that it “helps us to create a more transparent and honest market.”. This comes from a perspective of the market as an area which “has rather strict rules for us as people working in digital marketing.”.

Whilst many have seen this legislation as a potential obstacle for blockchain-based businesses in Europe, the words of both Szymanski and Eich echo those of a study performed by a UK university which I covered earlier this month.

He continued:

“Though on one hand, it may seem that now our opportunities are limited, it is not so. The opportunities are limited only for those who do not want to lead a fair game. If you are an honest player, newly applied principles can be viewed as new incentives for looking for new solutions and strategies that will meet the market’s requirements.

“To go forward you should be ready to introduce changes to your business if it is needed. And I don’t think that speaking about digital marketing in such a wide meaning, there is any sense to speak separately about the future of the industry domestically and internationally.”

Regarding new technologies in general and how they may be affecting the industry, Rafal talked about “virtual and augmented reality” and how it “can be used to improve customers’ experience, making ads more interesting for them”.

“AR as well as VR provide us with an opportunity to build interactive forms of advertising which will increase the effectiveness of our work. Though right now these technologies are not widely adopted in marketing and advertising, I hope that in the future it will happen.”

3. Sam Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of Lucidity Tech

Lucidity Tech is an open-source blockchain based protocol for the advertising sector which seeks to become a comprehensive service provider focused on transparency of data usage. According to the official website “the ability to have access to a transparent, clean set of data from across the programmatic supply chain is game-changing.”

The protocol utilises decentralized technology for absolute “accuracy, security and consensus” and like Rafal Szymanski, we reached out to the people behind Lucidity. Subsequently we got to speak directly with CEO and co-founder Sam Kim about his company, blockchain and digital advertising.

Kim “firmly believe[s] that transparency is the most pressing need of the industry today”, falling in line with the ethos of Lucidity at present, and elaborated with the claim that:

“It’s been the most important issue since programmatic advertising started. Advertisers today have to trust that they are getting what they paid for. But it’s very clear that it is not happening today.

“It’s like ordering steak at a restaurant but getting a salmon plate instead. And, they insist you pay for it anyway.”

This is because,

“They are activating their customer data to run CRM campaigns, look-a-like campaigns and use multi-touch attribution to conduct cross platform campaigns. But all of this investment is useless if your vendor decides to cheat you and run the advertisements outside of your desired location.”

The full version of this interview with Sam Kim will be published soon, and will feature content that’s completely exclusive to that you have just read.

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