Digital technology should make the advertising business more efficient. But it has not — at least not from the perspective of companies that place ads or the content publishers who sell ad space to them. Laden with middlemen and clouded by convoluted, proprietary ad placement platforms, the modern digital advertising industry faces serious challenges.
New York–based MadHive is on a mission to solve them. Using blockchain technology and smart contracts, MadHive is constructing an ad tech platform, called the MAD Network, that reduces the power of the middlemen in ad tech and brings buyers and sellers closer together.
At the same time, the MAD Network is designed to restore transparency to the ad tech industry. By recording information on the blockchain, encrypting it and making it available to advertisers with the requisite permissions, the MAD Network prevents fraud and ensures that advertisers can trace exactly how their money is being spent. Publishers can also sell data over the blockchain to help advertisers understand consumer behavior and plan ad campaigns more effectively.
The Problems With Advertising Today
Software tools can automate most of the work required to match an advertiser looking to place an ad with a publisher who has ad space to sell. However, the platforms that currently connect advertisers to publishers operate as “walled gardens,” in which only the platform owners — as opposed to advertisers and publishers — can understand how dollars are spent and information is exchanged.
This isn’t a problem that affects only small-time advertisers and publishers. It impacts organizations as large as The Guardian, a major British newspaper that is suing an ad tech company over allegations that the company’s proprietary ad placement service imposed “secret commissions” on the publisher and obscured information that would have helped the newspaper secure a fairer share of profits from advertisers.
Put simply, advertising dollars “disappear” as they flow down the supply chain from advertisers to publishers. Middlemen soak up a majority of the revenue.
How Mad Network Fixes Ad Tech
A better approach to ad tech is possible. MadHive is leading the way by building the MAD Network, a blockchain-based ad tech solution. The MAD Network is a complete ad tech platform that consists of several components, each of which solves an important challenge for advertisers, publishers or both.
MADnet Books is a blockchain-based payment system. MADnet Books does more than simply enable transactions, however. Because it is built on the blockchain, it facilitates decentralized, transparent revenue streams. Ad tech dollars can’t disappear when they are recorded on the blockchain — nor can advertisers and publishers be misled about the way money is being spent. The transparency that MADnet Books provides is just as important as the core payment functionality.
MADnet Books is powered by MADtoken, the protocol’s native token. The token economy is an important tool in the MADNetwork, which aims to flip the market dynamics for the middle layer. By doing so, MADNetwork will make it more profitable to be in business and serve the interest of buyers and sellers, which is not always the case in today’s supply chain. For the buyer this results in greater reach for the cost, while publishers actually lower the margin compression that currently plagues the digital advertising ecosystem.
A significant amount of value within the ad tech industry lies in the data that digital ad platforms create. Traditionally, this data has remained in the hands of the middlemen who control the platforms. They don’t typically share it with advertisers; instead, they may sell it to advertisers’ competitors to generate additional revenue.
On the MAD Network, however, data will be shared thanks to MADnet Data, a decentralized data management platform. MADnet Data will enable advertisers and publishers to share data about ad performance and engagement directly with each other, in a secure, peer-to-peer fashion regulated by permissions and access control. Such data sharing can help to generate additional revenue streams for publishers while providing advertisers with deeper insight into the effectiveness of their ad campaigns. Here, again, it all boils down to transparency.
MADnet Core is the server that matches advertisers to publishers for the purpose of placing ads. This is not just another ad server, however. Like the other parts of the MAD Network, MADnet Core operates in a decentralized fashion, with the network performing the work of finding out which publishers are a good match for which ads.
Because of this decentralized approach, no single party can control or manipulate the way ads are served. The core functionality of ad tech — matching advertisers with publishers — will remain open and transparent.
The MAD Network remains under very active development. MADnet Books is slated to be the first platform component to be completed, followed by MADnet Core and, later, MADnet Data.
To help support development of the MAD Network and offer the blockchain community an opportunity to invest in a platform that is poised to disrupt the ad tech industry from top to bottom, the MAD Network plans to host a token launch on November 30, 2017.