Banning The Banner Ad
By Nayantara Bhat | It’s annoying to check out a pair of shoes on an e-commerce platform and then have the shoes follow you from Google searches to ads on Facebook and Instagram.
Much of digital marketing in past two decades has been defined by cookies and programmatic advertising – using software to purchase digital ads. NOIZchain is a Hong Kong digital marketing company hoping to use blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize the world of digital marketing.
NOIZchain makes use of an AI chatbot that allows a user to interact with a banner ad, creating a conversation in which the user can engage fully with the brand. Ads created by NOIZchain are able to hold a conversation with users, asking or answering questions to create a comprehensive profile of a consumer’s preferences and spending habits.
Digital advertising is measured in clicks, with ad campaigns centering around gaining the maximum number of ‘impressions’. But NOIZchain CEO and Founder Andy Ann says that such campaigns are at the end of their lifetime – it’s too easy to create bots to click ads and generate revenue, defrauding brands that are paying ad publishers for clicks.
“Now the future is, we have run a campaign for two weeks, we have 50 million conversations with our customers,” he says.
NOIZchain’s model also makes sure that users are compensated for holding a conversation and giving up their data. Consumers can earn NOIZ tokens, which can be redeemed for incentives and discounts or paid forward to social impact organizations and charities. The tokens redeemed for vouchers are also paid forward to charities, instead of remaining with the advertisers and publishers.
“Advertisers already spent their advertising budget. There’s no reason for us to give them back the token, which has a dollar value,” Ann says. “Publishers have not earned more, advertisers have not spent less.”
Ann has worked in AdTech for 17 years and has plenty of experience in adapting marketing to meet the needs of the ever-changing tech industry. In 2007 when the smartphone revolution began, Ann launched Hotmob, a mobile advertising solutions provider. A few years later, with the rise of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, he expanded the platform to social media. NOIZchain launched in 2017 to combat the unsustainable amount of ad fraud and growing numbers of clickbots.
“Many brands, although they are spending triple digits on increasing their [marketing] in the digital space, what we see is the conversion rate is coming down,” Ann says, adding that with bots making up a majority of the clicks on digital advertisements, $100 put into a marketing budget doesn’t go nearly as far as it did before.
Ann and NOIZchain are relying on the unique characteristics of blockchain to help solve the problem, alongside its AI chatbot Nikola that is named after the prolific inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943).
“With AI, there’s a lot of fraud prevention – if you want to defraud us now, you can’t just build a clickbot and keep on clicking to fraud the money,” Ann says. “You have to create a conversation, you have to go through our algorithm of the AI conversation in order to fraud for more money. We’re making the work more difficult.”
With data protection regulations becoming more of a concern with the introduction of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, any service that attempts to obtain data from consumers is having a tough time. However, Ann is confident that data privacy won’t be an issue.
“The users own their own data. They have the choice to decide whether to sell it to the advertisers,” he says. “So that’s the beauty of blockchain, right? It’s not centralized, it’s not stored in our own data storage, and it’s not sold to the advertiser.”
NOIZchain isn’t alone in the industry when it comes to using blockchain to change the digital ad marketplace, but Ann says it is the only startup to focus on the user side. Competition aside, the company’s main challenges come in the form of optimizing its tech.
NOIZchain needs the right blockchain to be able to handle millions of transactions as the company scales, and to that end the company has partnered with enterprise-grade blockchain company NEM, in addition to ERC20.
Localizing the Nikola chatbot by training it in multiple languages is another challenge that will require time and dedication. In addition, NOIZchain also faces an uphill battle when it comes to adoption – it will take time to convince advertisers and management that paying for clicks is no longer an efficient policy.
At the heart of NOIZchain’s philosophy is a desire to build a strong community of users who hold and use NOIZ tokens, contributing to social welfare and proving that cryptocurrencies can be commercialized very quickly.
“We believe the world in the old days was all about product services and brands,” Ann says. “Now, it’s about community and culture. And it’s all about the power of collaboration, rather than one company owns all.” noizchain.com
About Andy Ann Andy has 17+ years’ experience in digital media. In addition to being a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, he is the Founder and CEO of NDN Group, a digital conglomerate heavily invested in mobile advertising networks, social networking, big data, artificial intelligence and advertising technology. Andy has also been actively involved in multiple Hong Kong and Silicon Valley incubators, including Google EYE, 500 Startups, Founders Institution, Entrepreneurs’ Organization and KPMG.