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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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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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