Anheuser-Busch bringing beer to blockchain advertising with Kiip

  (Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

AB InBev has recently partnered with mobile marketing platform Kiip to run moments-based ads for Bud Light, Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, Estrella, Stella Artois, and Lime-A-Rita. All campaign and impression-related data is written to the Ethereum blockchain on an hourly basis using a blockchain product developed by Kiip called “single ledger,” which makes the data accessible to anyone with the encryption key.

Kiip calls it a significant innovation for application of the blockchain technology for two reasons. "It makes brand content more relevant to consumers, and is an advance in fostering transparency within the mobile ad supply chain. The campaign is built around Kiip’s moments-targeting technology, which is being leveraged by AB InBev to break free of traditional interruptive advertising techniques to better connect with consumers in engaging, meaningful ways,” according to a statement.

“We’re building a company to last for the next 100 plus years and that can only be done by disrupting existing paradigms through innovation and putting consumers at the heart of everything we do,” said Lucas Herscovici, AB InBev's global marketing VP of consumer connections, insights and innovation. “As the world’s largest brewer and brand builders, we take our responsibility for the stewardship of the category seriously through our approach to advertising and the ways we create meaningful experiences for consumers with our brand content. This campaign will increase transparency in programmatic ad buying and support the ways our brands earn consumers attention.”

Because the data is only written to the blockchain once an hour, latency isn’t an issue, said Brian Wong, CEO and co-founder of Kiip. “It’s a commonly repeated misconception that blockchain is too slow for any type of advertising use case,” he said. “In this case, you don’t have to clear every impression in real time. It can be done in batches and be just as efficient.”

“When we started digging into blockchain’s potential impact on our business, we began to realize very simply that if Kiip was started today, it would be built on blockchain technology. As this realization started dawning on us, we began to architect what we would do to begin rolling this out,” Wong wrote on the company’s blog.

Wong also observed that there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about the technology. “We realized that the best way to show the potential impact was to show real use cases, and to publicly explain our roll out plan in clear English so that people would believe blockchain’s immediate impact, and trust our ability to bring the technology, as it develops at lightning speed, to the broader market.”

Wong also wrote that they are writing the campaign data of their campaigns with AB InBev to the Ethereum blockchain, and are “providing keys to the DSPs, agency, and client to audit the campaign data. We have functionality that allows the DSP, SSP, and other players to also write data to the same blockchain and to enable automatic reconciliation occur in future campaigns through smart contracts. In short, we’re helping solve the core issue of everyone agreeing on what to pay each other for through a private-public blockchain. All the campaign data is encrypted and only accessible to those with the keys.”

It’s not that AB InBev’s data scientists mind putting in the time and effort, said Andy Chang, AB InBev’s global head of media and content. “It’s just really frustrating when we can’t validate benchmarks or create learnings because we’re not confident in the data behind them.”

Using blockchain creates an immutable place for this data to live and the ability to set up a smart contract that spits out a definitive count at the end. AB InBev can also see where all media runs by brand and publisher.

The campaign is still ongoing, but AB InBev is pleased with the visibility it’s getting, and it doesn’t consider this experiment a one-off.

“We’re a big organization, and we’re driven by validated pilots that drive validated learnings,” Chang said. “The pilots we’re seeking with platforms to drive accountability in the media ecosystem is for sure something we’ll continue to do. It’s a long-term trend for us.”

“Blockchain technology has been overhyped with very loose and frankly lightweight use cases,” Wong said. “But it’s also something that can have an immediate impact on a real problem in our industry – something any CMO can relate to and immediately activate.”

AB InBev is a part of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance. BiTA was formed by experienced tech and transportation executives to create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry. Their goal is to bring together leading companies in the freight technology industries that have a vested interest in the development of blockchain technology.