Know The Coin: AdEx' Co-Founder and CEO Ivo Georgiev
Hey there, and welcome to another episode of ChangeNOW’s Know The Coin! Today’s guest is Ivo Georgiev, the Co-Founder and Lead Developer of AdEx Network, a trust-minimized decentralized protocol for digital advertising!
Hey there, Ivo! Would you mind telling the readers a couple words about yourself, your background, and your team?
My name is Ivo Georgiev and I’m a co-founder and CEO of AdEx Network. I have been writing code since I was 10 years old, and I am fascinated by the opportunities that blockchain technology presents to us today.
AdEx is my second successful venture; before diving into it, I worked on my first major project, the Stremio media center. It continues to grow today, and has more than 7.5 million users around the world. My team and I are hoping that AdEx will follow suit and will quickly achieve mass adoption.
Please explain AdEx in a couple of sentences.
AdEx originated in 2017 as a decentralized ad exchange for digital advertising, and subsequently evolved into a full protocol for decentralized digital advertising.
Тoday, the AdEx protocol facilitates trading of advertising inventory, as well as the subsequent verification and proof that it actually occurred. Essentially, it covers all interactions between publishers, advertisers and end users. The protocol combines traditional peer-to-peer technology, cryptography and blockchain.
We designed the protocol and the AdEx platform to tackle some of the major inefficiencies of the online advertising world today: ad fraud, lack of transparency and bad reporting, invasion of privacy, etc.
How did the idea of launching an advertising protocol on a blockchain emerge? Who was the initiator?
It all began when we were looking for ways to monetize our older product - the media center platform Stremio with more than 7.5 million users globally. We tried out different ad networks to introduce display ads in the app, but we simply weren’t satisfied with any of the existing solutions on the market. Reports were always different from our internal measuring tools, we had to pay ridiculous fees just to use some of the platforms, integration was unnecessarily complicated, and overall we did not get the results we expected.
This is why we decided to build our own solution.We started looking into different technologies and realized that advertising is a really good and viable use case for blockchain. We were among the very first projects in the space and since our token generation campaign in 2017 we have developed 4 iterations of our product already.
How many active contributing developers are there?
At the moment we have a team of five developers. They are supported by our designer, and by a team of marketing, communications and business development experts.
How exactly does AdEx work with regard to achieving a clean and legitimate advertising environment?
AdEx is not a silver bullet - but we are focusing on minimizing the opportunities for ad fraud, ineffective reporting and end user privacy invasion. In all honesty, eliminating ad fraud completely is not possible; what we do is employ a number of solutions to mitigate it.
By introducing real-time reporting we empower advertisers to exercise strict control over their campaigns all the time. Whenever suspicious traffic occurs - lots of impressions for a short period of time with bad conversion rate for example, advertisers can spot the problem, suspend their campaign immediately and inform the system.
By removing middlemen we eliminate the incentive for false reporting. Additional agents very often increase their commission by reporting more impressions that actually occurred, for example. AdEx is self-serve platform, so there is no need of DSPs, SSPs, agencies, etc.
In addition, we employ mechanisms like cryptographic identities, whitelists/blacklists, etc.
Is AdEx a replacement for all existing advertising networks or more of an enhancement tool for them?
The AdEx Platform is a new breed of an ad network. It may not necessarily replace existing ad networks, but certainly force them to change their working models.
Actually, what are the differences between a traditional ad network, like Bitcoadz, for example, and a decentralized advertising protocol? How does the latter improve upon the former?
The fundamental difference between traditional ad networks and AdEx is centralization - most other differences come as a result. Centralized ad networks operate as an authority governing data and payments. They have access to reports on the performance of ads on the network and usually distribute the reports to interested parties with a delay. Having control on the results allows centralized ad networks to manipulate them or sell data. Being also a payment processor, most traditional ad networks organize weekly or monthly payouts and distribute earned funds to publishers according to their own rules. There are occasions in which bankrupted traditional ad networks didn’t pay some of their publishers what they earned.
On the other hand, AdEx Network functions entirely as a decentralized network. Reports are served in real time and only to the interested parties (the publisher and the advertiser). Payments on the AdEx network are made in crypto stablecoin DAI directly between the publisher and the advertiser. The network doesn’t act as a payment processor, so no additional fees are accumulated. Furthermore, publishers and advertisers have full control over their funds and can withdraw them at any time.
In the given example Bitcoadz does payments in crypto, but that doesn’t solve the other inefficiencies of the way traditional ad networks operate, Bitcoadz among them.
How does the ADX token function within the AdEx protocol?
The AdEx protocol runs on an important piece of infrastructure called "The AdEx validator"; this is a software that advertisers/publishers may run themselves or rent; The AdEx validator makes sure that generated impressions in an advertising campaign are valid and the publisher can claim his reward from the advertiser.
Renting one is obviously easier, and we have a decentralized registry that helps them pick a validator to rent; This registry allows entities that run validators to stake ADX against their reputation, correctness and unavailability; should they fail to stay online during an ad campaign or should they misbehave, their stake will be slashed as a punishment.
If advertisers/publishers decide to run validators themselves, they will have to stake a certain amount of ADX tokens to do so.
Are there any up-and coming plans to launch Stremio with AdEx integrated in it as a ready-to-work solution? Will Stremio be a replacement for YouTube or less widespread streaming platforms like Vimeo or DailyMotion?
We have already integrated a test ad slot via AdEx on Stremio. For the first 4 days it generated more than 300,000 impressions and it is safe to say that it is ready-to-work solution. Anyway, Stremio won’t replace Vimeo or DailyMotion - it is not a platform for uploading content, but a media center that aggregates content from different sources. You can watch Vimeo or DailyMotion content on Stremio if you wish.
Could AdEx be integrated into platforms like Twitch to improve the revenue stream for content creators?
Certainly. We are building the AdEx protocol with plans to enable diverse forms of advertising: paying users for their attention, similar to BAT; end users paying for unlocking special content; validating actions different from display ads, such as actions on social media, video, etc.
Integrating AdEx into platform like Twitch is possible and in our plans.
Have there been any solid ADX partnerships you’re excited to tell us about?
We’re afraid that we’re not at the name-dropping stage yet. Our business development team is actively working on securing key partnerships but they will be announced in due time.
Any thoughts about AdEx mass adoption?
Adoption is tricky for marketplaces like ours. To get advertisers to sign up, you need publishers; to get publishers, you need advertisers. Fortunately, we are one step ahead - we already have Stremio as a publisher, and the AdEx advertising grant winners as advertisers.
Additionally, blockchain and the cryptocurrency are still a bit scary to the mainstream user but we are actively working towards making the magic happen in the background so that AdEx mimics the user experience of any centralized ad network. One example are our quick accounts - they let people sign up with an email address rather than with an existing crypto wallet.
All this effort helps speed up our adoption and puts our advertisers and publishers at ease.
Now, let’s talk about the market for a bit. What do you think is happening right now - a bull run in the making, perhaps?
It seems too early to tell, but historically speaking, this is similar to the recovery period after the previous bull run of 2013-2014. One thing that's slightly scary is how quickly the market went up, but on the other hand, we have a ton of things to be positive about - Ethereum went from being a toy back in 2016/2017, to becoming a diverse ecosystem of real-world solutions (e.g. payment channels); The Bitcoin story looks great too: the Lightning network is live! Overall, the crypto ecosystem has matured greatly since the last bull run.
However, all those positive developments do not necessarily mean a new bull run. We'll see.
What do you think about AdEx’s situation? Maybe, a little price prediction or some healthy bragging?
We are focused on creating an exceptional product, and our top priorities are smooth user experience, technology and business growth.
That said, we can certainly brag! Our payment channels (OUTPACE) are now on mainnet and as of writing this they’ve processed over 300,000 micropayments for a few dollars in Ethereum network fees. The capacity, however, is over 7k micropayments per second with only two validators and the same security guarantees as Ethereum. We find that to be pretty brag-worthy!
Speaking of the future, will we be able to see any AdEx updates any time soon? Any up-and-coming integrations, or, maybe, exciting new features?
AdEx updates are rolling constantly. We have a roadmap published on our website that we strictly follow and we report our progress on our regular blog posts.
Speaking of website - expect a new, much more informative version of the website, soon!
Thank you so much for your time! Is there anything you’d like to add?
We are confident that the world is now ready for a better, cleaner, more ethical web - and AdEx network is our way to chip in and contribute for achieving it. We welcome advertisers and publishers on the AdEx Network.
Thank you so much for reading – stay tuned for more Know The Coin episodes by ChangeNOW soon!