McDonald's, Virgin Media and Nestlé are the first brands to sign up for a blockchain pilot spearheaded by the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (Jicwebs), with the aim of increasing trust and transparency in digital advertising.
The cross-industry trade body issued a call for businesses to take part in the pilot earlier this year, saying it would evaluate how blockchain, or distributed ledger technology (DLT), could help boost the efficiency and transparency of digital ad buys.
The first three advertisers out of the gate will participate in the trial for the remainder of 2019. Jicwebs said it will use the first round of tests to measure the impact of blockchain solutions that provide "end-to-end supply chain transparency and clarity around advertising spend."
Further stages of the trial will look to "optimise the supply chain and gain operational efficiencies for all involved."
Kat Howcroft, senior media and budget manager at McDonald’s, said: “This technology offers us the opportunity to see a truly transparent picture of our investment across the digital supply chain. We are also eager to understand the potential impact that this may have on our ROI and efficiency.”
Nestlé, McDonald's and Virgin Media will be joined by their respective media agencies Zenith, OMD UK and Manning Gottlieb OMD in the experiment.
As the project develops and the supply chain mapping is completed, additional participants will be announced by Jicwebs, including publishers and technology vendors.
London-based blockchain platform Fiducia is supporting the trial.
Along with retailers like Walmart, Nestlé is already experimenting with weaving blockchain into its business, having formed part of a consortium dedicated to using the tech to glean better insights about the origin and condition of food in 2017.
Its head of media communications, Steven Pollack, said the brand was "excited" to be involved in the Jicwebs pilot.
"Blockchain is a new technology being tested in many diverse industries. It’s great to be one of the first brands to gain insight into its potential in programmatic," he added.
The blockchain marketing landscape has exploded over the past two years, noting 16-fold growth since 2017. However, although brands like Unilever are investing in the technology, commentators have warned that it's not a "silver bullet" solution to the issues advertisers are facing in the digital space.