Video streaming service Hulu is cautiously optimistic about the potential of blockchain technology to solve problems faced by the advertising industry, particularly in the areas of data privacy and brand trust.
Adam Moser, head of ad tech and platform operations at Hulu, told PCMag that the company — which, unlike its major competitors, serves ads to lower-tiered subscribers — said that although the firm is not currently pursuing any blockchain applications, it is excited about the technology’s promise.
“Blockchain is interesting to use because trust, transparency, all of those things matter to marketers. They’re critical from our standpoint not just as Hulu as a brand, but also Hulu as a media publisher. So when we meet with companies that are talking about blockchain solutions, I think the promise of what they can bring to the landscape, specifically regarding transparency and the ability to be able to track transactional details in an open and decentralized way, is something we’re in support of for the industry.”
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Moser, who was speaking on the sidelines of the CDX Blockchain Brand Innovation Summit at Columbia University, said that Hulu is taking a “wait-and-see approach” to blockchain applications, noting that smart contracts in particular are still so nascent that the industry has not yet even reached consensus on which challenges this technology can solve.
“Everyone is talking about how blockchain is going to solve for smart contracts, for transparency, for streamlining data targeting…those are three very different avenues. I think this is a potential path forward to solve challenges within our industry, but we have to decide which challenge we want to solve for,” Moser said, noting that applications are not often a one-size-fits-all solution.
“Every time we talk to these companies and they ask if we want to run a test, we take a wait-and-see approach. We want to test-drive the car when it’s been built, not as it’s being built,” he added. “The way we integrate our service onto gaming platforms, smart TVs, etc., it requires a different approach. If a solution comes to us and says it may work on Xbox and Playstation but not on Roku or Apple TV, it doesn’t work for Hulu.”
That said, the company is hopeful that it can use blockchain technology to standardize the buy side and sell side of the video advertising market, as well as provide advertisers with transparency into pricing and other important data — such as whether their ads are being served to their target demographic.
“Blockchain [shows] a decentralized and open way that marketers can understand how their inventory is being bought and how they’re being charged,” he said.
Ultimately, though, Moser stressed that blockchain is an early-stage technology, so it is unclear when these applications will feature prominently in the advertising industry.
“It feels like we’re in a crawl, walk, run type of approach with blockchain,” he concluded. “If you use that metaphor, right now we’re at the stage where you’re just figuring out how to wiggle your toes.”