AdHash

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Mission

The AdHash Protocol cuts out the middlemen from the advertising supply chain to bring efficiency, trust, and control. AdHash's mission focuses on improving the efficiency the $385B ad industry. If wired properly this can unlock an extraordinary amount of capital for media to create more and better quality content outside of paywalls. The open internet and the free flow of information is a powerful driver of knowledge and it is too big and too important to let it become privatised.

Problem

Digital advertising is a $385B global industry that has become increasingly intermediated. This has led to an unprecedented loss of money, data, and privacy:

  • Ad tech middlemen consume more than 70% of publishers’ ad revenues.
  • Advertisers have little transparency into where their money is going and how their ROI is generated.
  • $26B will be lost to ad fraud in 2020 and the figures are growing.
  • Users have little knowledge of how their personal data are used and no real control over their browsing experience and ad preferences.

The sheer complexity required to deliver a simple ad from an advertiser’s ad server to a publisher’s website or app is best illustrated by the graph below:

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Solution

The AdHash Protocol allows advertisers, for the first time, to serve ads directly to the users, eliminating the need for any third-party ad serving, targeting, verification, tracking, and analytics providers. The result - unparalleled cost reduction and enhanced transparency, security, and efficiency.


Benefits

The advantages of the AdHash Protocol include:

  • A 3% commission replacing the 70% ad tech tax.
  • Robust ad fraud prevention.
  • Computationally verifiable targeting, first-party data, and real-time reporting.
  • Direct control and transparency from the client’s server, eliminating the need to trust and rely on any third-parties.
  • Full user control over their privacy and browsing experience.
  • Quick and easy reconciliation, facilitating daily payments and the ability to instantly verify and compare records with transacting counter-parties.
  • An order of magnitude quicker ad loads increasing viewability and resulting a similar reduction in page load time, battery and data drain.
  • An order of magnitude reduction in the number of middlemen required to successfully serve an ad.
  • A direct communication channel between publishers and advertisers means that publishers can share thei audience segments without adding any intermediaries to the supply chain.
  • Deployment of fully-customisable targeting strategies (live and forecasted weather changes, breaking news, as well as any APIs linking to real-world events).


Team

The team consists of sixteen people who have worked together for over six years building and scaling ad tech platforms. The management team consists of:

Martin Stoev


Studied Physics at the University of Cambridge.

Founded a successful ad tech company, serving over 500 clients in 25 countries. 


Damyan Stanchev


Studied Software Engineering at Sofia University.


10 years of experience in JavaScript, PHP, and SQL. 


Adriana Taseva


Studied Chinese Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Grew her previous ad tech company’s monthly revenue from $8K to $500K.

Nishchal Basnyat

Yale Law, Cambridge University, Harvard Ex-Lazard and credit investing experience.


Competition

AdHash has three major categories of competitors:

The big walled gardens

Google, Facebook, Amazon. They have proprietary data, unlimited resources, and extensive reach. Their product offerings are quite different, but target the same customers. Their biggest strength is their size. Their biggest weakness - customer dissatisfaction. They are deeply invested in the middleman-infested infrastructure which makes their commissions high, their platforms slow, and their data becoming increasingly opaque and incompatible with other solutions. The biggest threat for those three platforms is the inevitable data protection and antitrust action of regulators that will prevent them from mixing their customers’ data with their ad businesses. 


Independent ad tech

Mostly relying on the OpenRTB Protocol. It is a continually-evolving protocol for digital advertising on which most of today’s ads are served. OpenRTB has slowly been moving towards transparency and introducing solutions to tackle ad fraud and some of the other problems plaguing our industry. OpenRTB’s problem is that the entire middleman infrastructure of today is built on top of it and it is being developed by those very same companies. So there is no incentive for it to move towards efficiency and simplicity.

Native advertising networks

Taboola and Outbrain. Those networks allow publishers to mask advertising as native content produced and endorsed by them. They effectively pull readers away from high-quality content with compelling clickbait links to low-quality websites and apps. Ideally, in a world where publishers can stay profitable by genuine and disclosed ads alone, those networks should not exist. AdHash makes this happen by letting publishers retain a lot more of the value that they create. 



SWOT Analysis

Everything listed below was defined at the end of 2019. For the sake of keeping track of our progress, we are including a quick update at the bottom of each section on what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats look like at the beginning of 2021.

Strengths

  • First to market with direct ad serving.
  • Accurate first-party data delivered in real time.
  • A fully distributed framework which is censor-resistant and easy to scale.
  • Computationally-verifiable targeting which ensures that advertisers only pay for ads delivered to the right audience.
  • 25x lower commission than the current ad tech tax.
  • An order of magnitude faster ad serving which improves viewability for advertisers, page load time for users, and revenues for publishers.
  • Robust ad fraud prevention.
  • A more transparent, user-centred, and privacy-focused approach which echoes what the market needs.
  • Prior experience in building and scaling ad tech platforms, serving 500 clients in 25 countries.

2021 update: All of the above remain just as strong, but our case is now strengthened by the industry-wide movement towards more privacy-oriented and efficient types of advertising. The “cookiepokalipse” is certainly making it much easier for us to communicate our thesis to clients. And, after improving the platforms over the past year and relentlessly incorporating client feedback, our sales and onboarding processes have become much shorter.

Weaknesses

  • The challenge of scaling a marketplace.
  • When launching a disruptive technology people do not necessarily understand where the value lies and how to use it. This will require a period of education.
  • Convincing advertisers to abandon excessive user targeting and fingerprinting.
  • Scaling globally with advertisers may require opening local branches to facilitate sales.
  • Being significantly understaffed compared to our biggest competitors.

2021 update: We have added over a thousand clients to our pipeline over the past year, so the challenge of scaling a marketplace is greatly diminished. Our UI and UX improvements as well as the incorporation of customer feedback that we have received has also greatly reduced the need to educate our clients. This is further helped by the widespread media attention to the need to switch away from excessive targeting and user fingerprinting. 2020 has also taught most businesses that meetings do not need to be held in person and that they can work easily with global partners. This will reduce our need to open local branches in different geographies.

Opportunities

  • Entering a $385B market with the right technology at the right time. The industry is ripe for an overhaul and publishers and advertisers are motivated to adopt new solution.
  • Low switching costs make client acquisition relatively easy. Clients do not need to abandon their existing solution, just to allocate a portion of their traffic/ad spend to AdHash to A/B test.
  • Designing the core protocol from the ground up allowed us to build in new functionalities and eliminate inefficiencies on an architectural level.
  • Open sourcing the protocol makes integrations easy and drives scalability.
  • Offering ad agencies a unique opportunity to differentiate by being truly transparent.
  • Providing a more sustainable business model for the open internet.

2021 update: All of the above remain just as strong, but we have also discovered quite a few new opportunities in affiliate advertising, custom ad formats, real-world events targeting, and many others.

Threats

  • AdHash is disrupting an extremely profitable and increasingly sophisticated ad fraud industry. Therefore, attacks from ad fraudsters are to be expected.
  • The biggest players in the digital advertising industry might try to copy some of our ideas and implement them in their solutions as soon as we gain traction.
  • Failing to scale adequately.
  • Becoming a niche ad network and failing to attract any integrations.

2021 update: Our ad fraud prevention mechanisms grow stronger every month and we now find ourselves in a much better place than at the end of 2019. We are also actively working on protecting some of the core elements of AdHash, making it far more difficult for the biggest players in the ad industry to reverse-engineer our technology. And we are no longer worried about failing to attract any integrations as even today, nearly a year before we are scheduled to start offering integrations, we are already receiving integration requests on an almost weekly basis.


Company Updates

We are growing!

Having screened over 400 candidates and conducted over 50 interviews, we are excited to welcome onboard our CFO, a full stack developer, a PHP developer, a designer, and two people responsible for tech support. Our team is stronger than ever and ready to move ahead at full throttle. In addition, in early 2021, we have hired a senior quality assurance expert to help with our development.

New HQ in Switzerland

Along with the team, our company’s commercial and corporate structure is expanding with our new head quarters in Switzerland - home to some of the greatest, high-end brands. With its strategic socio-economic positioning, vivid stance on privacy, and strong ties to neighbouring countries, Switzerland is the perfect conduit for a rapid market expansion across Europe.

Protecting our innovations

AdHash introduces a number of disruptive technological innovations to the advertising space. Some of these include:

  • Ad Hashes — unique and universal ad identifiers designed to eliminate double spending and data discrepancies and deliver accountability and user control.
  • Direct ad serving — an entirely new protocol for delivering ads online, enabling advertisers, for the first time, to bypass the slough of ad tech middlemen and serve ads directly to the users. This not only brings a significant cost reduction but also facilitates an unprecedented level of accuracy, transparency, and speed in reporting performance.
  • A fully distributed architecture, allowing advertisers and publishers to remain completely independent and preserve full privacy over their data, while saving costs on commissions, and eliminating any single points of failure.

Overall, 14 claims for US patents have been submitted.

Buckling up for growth

We have put in place a custom CRM system and onboarded hundreds of leads and existing relationships to prepare for a speedy international expansion. With the new additions to the team, we now have the development and human resources to support a growing base of clients. As of this moment, there are 606 clients in our pipeline.

International expansion

At the end of January 2021, we have started reaching out to our large pipeline of international publishers and within the first week have already onboarded dozens of new publishers.

Tech improvements at the core of AdHash

As part of our strategy to ensure widespread adoption of AdHash while protecting those who truly care about private and secure digital advertising, we have started rewriting part of AdHash’s core tech stack to be more secure while still supporting open-source contributors and reviewers. We also expect to introduce further performance benefits and use them to pass on some data-processing savings to our clients.


Product Updates

Two new releases of the platforms

Version 1.3 and Version 1.4 of the AdHash platforms introduce new capabilities such as the AdHash Public Marketplace for direct deals, weather targeting, first-party audience segmentation, and payments by debit or credit card, along with improvements to the UI/UX and back-end architecture, allowing for quicker operations and reporting, improved detection of mobile device models, and a light colour theme. Right at the end of 2020 we released Version 1.5 which exceeded our original plans for product development during the year. It introduced improved A/B testing, automated campaign summaries, as well as many performance optimisations.

The AdHash Public Marketplace

Designed to bring real-time reporting, targeting capabilities, and automation to the manual and time-intensive process of managing direct deals, the AdHash Public Marketplace is where publishers showcase their premium direct-sold positions with transparent pricing and audience information, allowing advertises to quickly and easily discover inventory, send proposals, negotiate, and manage direct deals from a single place, at scale. Wondering what this looks like? Take a look.


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Besides the opportunity for greater exposure and market discovery, the AdHash Public Marketplace allows both - publishers and advertisers to onboard their existing direct relationships to automate processes, reduce overhead, and leverage the targeting capabilities and real-time reporting. Existing clients bringing new clients will help scale the marketplace, building a more vibrant and dynamic ecosystem.

Audience segmentation

With the decline of third-party data, publisher’s first-party data will become a much more valuable resource, allowing publishers to regain a position of strength in the advertising ecosystem. Developing first-party data strategies and the tech infrastructure to enable publishers to fully utilise this asset will be key in the years ahead. AdHash provides a direct publisher-to-advertiser communication channel that allows publisher to define specific audience segments and communicate that data directly to the advertisers, allowing for more precise targeting that increases the value of their inventory.

Weather targeting

Advertises can now target and set bid multipliers against different weather conditions (rain, snow, fog, etc.) and quantifiable weather parameters, such as temperature. A shop selling tyres can optimise their campaign for winter tyres to bid higher for advertising space when the temperature falls below zero, or when it snows. A food delivery startup can increase their bids when the weather is unlikely to incentivise people to eat outside in any given city. And, of course, publishers profit from this technology by receiving higher bids from interested advertisers.

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Version History

Version 1.5 (December 2020)

Introducing audience segmentation, allowing publishers to directly share their first-party audience insights with advertisers. We are also introducing weather targeting with bid multipliers applying to both current conditions and forecasted data. Heatmap A/B testing helps advertisers strategise better on their performance. Weekly summaries can now be automatically exported as PDFs and delivered via email.

  • 278 commits
  • 37,520 lines of code added
  • 10,827 lines of code removed
  • 801 files changed

Version 1.4 (October 2020)

This update is focused mostly on performance updates and clearing tech debt. We are improving reporting speed through back-end optimisations, improving the notifications’ structure, revamping the registration page, and improving mobile device detection. In addition, we are adding a light-theme to the user interface.

  • 206 commits
  • 47,322 lines of code added
  • 42,884 lines of code removed
  • 1,072 files changed

Version 1.3 (September 2020)

Introducing the AdHash Public Marketplace for direct deals and adding credit and debit card payments to the platforms. Introducing a couple of new and unique ad formats.

  • 255 commits
  • 35,520 lines of code added
  • 7,333 lines of code removed
  • 728 files changed

Version 1.2 (May 2020)

Introducing Hypercontextual targeting, allowing advertisers to target specific URLs or whole sections of websites with relevant contextual assets. Adding the option to negotiate on direct deals. Improving invalid click detection.

  • 122 commits
  • 17,837 lines of code added
  • 12,376 lines of code deleted
  • 351 files changed

Version 1.1 (April 2020)

Introducing AdHash Direct which allows publishers and advertisers to facilitate direct deals as an additional transaction channel to AdHash RTB. Introducing video tutorials in the Support Centre. Major performance improvements to the reporting interface.

  • 101 commits
  • 9,317 lines of code added
  • 3,980 lines of code removed
  • 299 files changed

Version 1.0 (February 2020)

The initial release of the AdHash Server-Side Platforms that brought us out of stealth-mode and beta-testing after tens of thousands of hours of development.

  • 120 commits
  • 11,211 lines of code added
  • 3,366 lines of code removed
  • 213 files changed