Gartner’s Andrew Frank: Third-party validation of brands, content is coming

Previewing his MarTech Conference presentation, the analyst expects a blockchain-based system as a counter to the emerging ‘crisis of trust.’

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In five years, a video player will show some indicator, like a star, that validates the brand video as genuine by a third-party decentralized service.

So predicts Gartner VP/Distinguished Analyst Andrew Frank, who will delve into the topic of “How GDPR, privacy, identity and blockchain are shaping the next wave in martech evolution” at our MarTech Conference next month in Boston.

In an interview, Frank pointed to Truepic and Prover as two blockchain-based companies that now offer authentication of photos and video, including user-generated content.

He sees blockchain as a key part of the solution to the “crisis of trust, in its early stages, [that is now] sweeping the world.” That crisis is taking many forms, such as brands’ concern that their programmatically-delivered video ad will end up in, say, an Isis recruiting video.

Not to mention fake followers, fake brand social accounts, deep fake videos that present realistic sound bites of people saying or doing things they never said or did, and counterfeit products.

The key to maintaining brand identity in this kind of environment, he said, is the authentication of origination. If you can verify this is the actual brand, or this is an actual video from a user of a product, or this product was really handmade in Philadelphia, there is a basis for trust.

The verifier’s credentials

Verification could be built into the infrastructure, he pointed out, like the phone company providing some way of indicating that the call you get from your local electricity utility is really from the electricity utility. Before the Internet, he pointed out, major telcos were close to being in such a defining position of authority.

But now it would need to start with such giants as Google, Facebook and Amazon, which have some credibility issues of their own. So there needs to be a decentralized, external system or systems, Frank said.

A key reason blockchain is an appropriate protocol for these decentralized systems, he said, is because it can audit trails of activity in a transparent way.

But Neil Hughes, VP of digital strategy firm One World Identity, pointed out to me that, to verify origination or identity, you need someone who is credentialed.

In other words, verification by an unknown source, even if it is blockchain-based, could have little value because you don’t know if it’s being run by the Russian mob. Hughes noted that credentialized organizations outside of government have sprung up in Australia, in an authorized system that can be used, for instance, to renew a driver’s license.

Frank compared the emergence of a system of decentralized validation to the most successful decentralized protocol in history, the Internet. There are many issues with the Net, he pointed out, but it generally works really well as a massively decentralized infrastructure.

“It’s not 100 percent reliable,” he said, “but it’s pretty reliable.”

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About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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