They are our clients, our friends, good contacts or just people we met in the crypto-community. They have a new vision, they are running great projects, they are developing new services or they just want to share their story. Havas Blockchain is interviewing key people of the blockchain ecosystem.
We are today with Mike Rodov, founder of AdNode:
(1) Can you present your background and your business?
I’ve been a serial entrepreneur with an interest in improving the business models of digital media since 2007. Most recently, I was the founder and CEO of a publisher which reached 2.7 million monthly users and $3 million in annualized digital ad revenue until selling my equity stake at year-end 2017. This was the time I started learning and thinking about the application of blockchain technology to digital advertising.
Ad ops teams spend days analyzing spreadsheets, generating reports and resolving data and invoicing issues with partners. This is a result of the different pieces in the advertising ecosystem not communicating well together. Worse yet, delays and uncertainties with reconciling ad campaigns result in delays for ad agencies to shift media investment dollars to publishers with better performance. I wanted to fix that. AdNode was created in May 2018 along with my co-founder and CTO Daniel Arnold.
The idea behind AdNode is that automating the ad buying process will create accountability for digital advertising. We built the AdNode platform with love to allow agencies and publishers to easily create insertion orders (or smart contracts) which define business rules for billable ad impressions. Our platform ingests data from agency’s existing ad measurement vendors on which impressions are billable or not for viewability, fraud, brand safety, in-geo, frequency cap, audience verification or other issues in near real-time. Invoices are automatically generated and final with blockchain-certified sales receipts. This saves agency and publisher teams time by eliminating the frustrating reconciliation process. Agencies, and their clients, have instant visibility into their verified billings allowing them to re-allocate media investment dollars during the campaign to the most effective programs.
(2) Is blockchain an opportunity or a risk for the advertising industry?
In my opinion, both. The opportunity is that advertisers will feel safer with digital media investment increasing the total size of the industry. We can greatly increase operational efficiency and won’t require a dozen systems to keep track of the same data, which means there will be more profitability and more interesting job opportunities. Publishers which achieve the best performance for advertisers will be able to win more budget dollars faster which will support higher-quality content and website experiences. Advertisers will have better results.
When a publisher is reluctant to streamline processes and provide visibility on viewability, brand safety, bot traffic, or audience verification to its customers, there’s a reason for it: they are getting away with something. Likewise, some ad tech vendors thrive in an uncertain and complex environment where data is not streamlined, blockchain-certified and instantly accepted by the agency and publisher. The tougher digital advertising seems, the more certain “ad tech experts” thrive.
Regardless, progress is inevitable. Just as digital advertising replaced much of print advertising, blockchain technologies will drive a new wave of accountability for the advertising industry. The firms and people who adopt blockchain early will be best-positioned to win. Fear of progress is no reason to keep one’s head in the sand.
(3) What is your vision on the future of blockchain and crypto?
I believe in the future we will all be benefiting from blockchain technology on a daily basis without directly participating in the workings of the tech. Many of us type “http” in web browsers on a daily basis, but we don’t need to know how hyper-text transfer protocol works.
I don’t expect ad agencies, clients or publishers will jump at using crypto for payments anytime soon. That is not how we budget and plan in our industry. The benefit of crypto as a store of value is more for other use cases such as people in emerging market countries who do not trust their local currencies. The dollar and the Euro have done a relatively good job of storing value.
Public blockchains provide an elegant solution for verifying transactions securely. This allows anyone to run business rules without having to check the data each step of the way. The most significant change is that creating a sophisticated algorithm for processing certified data based on business rules will now be as simple as filling out a form. It will allow anyone to be a creator. The future of blockchain is empowering us.