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How blockchain can save advertising supply chains

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Advertising has become unimaginably complex over the years with so many intermediaries in the supply chain. But, says DAVID BUTT, Consulting Director at Acceleration, blockchain may restore trust in the ad supply chain.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Many of us can identify with this well-known lament from John Wanamaker, a pioneer of marketing. He said it almost 100 years ago, but it’s still painfully applicable today.

Advertising has become unimaginably complex over the years. There are now so many intermediaries in the supply chain – including programmatic advertisers and ad tech companies – that fraud is increasingly difficult to keep at bay.

The problem is that there is very little visibility and transparency when it comes to reporting on things like when and where an ad was shown, how many views it received, and how many of those views were from actual human beings from the advertiser’s target audience.

Advertisers just can’t be sure how much of their spend is translating into actual results (clicks, subscribes, sales) and how much is going to fraudulent activity (bot traffic, click farms, domain spoofing, inflated prices and pixel stuffing).

Did you know:

Juniper Research expects wasted ad spend to reach $51 million per day this year – or $19 billion for the whole of 2018.

·         Forrester calculated that $7.4 billion was wasted on display ads alone in 2016 and that 56% of all display ad dollars were lost to fraudulent or non-viewable inventory in 2016.

These numbers are frightening. It’s no wonder that more and more businesses are bringing their media function in-house so that they have greater control over their budgets.

Blockchain: Simple and transparent

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are publicly, permanently and securely recorded. It is transparent by design and cannot be ‘owned’ by any single person. Rather, the ledger is distributed among all parties, including ad tech vendors, buyers and publishers, who have complete visibility into every transaction and must collectively approve any changes to the data.

Blockchain would enforce a level of accountability and transparency that is badly needed in the ad supply chain. As a result, advertisers would be able to see exactly who bought their ad, when and where it was displayed, and who saw it. And publishers would be able to regain control of their ad space, boosting revenue.

It’s still early days

The adoption of blockchain in the ad industry is still in its infancy because as many people are wary of adopting something so new. There are a number of start-ups however, that are experimenting with the blockchain and seeing promising results. Once they can prove the value of the blockchain to advertisers and publishers, and once we have solid standards and protocols in place, I believe we will see bigger vendors start to show an interest.

With blockchain, we will be able to re-establish trust, visibility and transparency into the ad ecosystem. I believe that this will lead to the next evolution in advertising: where advertisers again feel comfortable handing over control of their budgets to trusted consultants and agencies.

Getting future ready

The underlying technology of blockchain has vast potential in many aspects of business, not only to combat ad fraud. Blockchain can support new trust models around regulatory compliance, data integrity, device integrity and distributed operations to name but a few.

It’s important to understand that blockchain, like any technology, requires an ecosystem to support it. This includes technical solutions, operating models and, most importantly, people.

The best way to prepare is to ensure you understand blockchain. Then you can begin to identify relevant use cases, map-governing principles, and test use cases against the most appropriate technology.

If you want to future-proof your business, now is the time to start understanding blockchain and proving the case for its use.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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