Announced May 31, 2017, blockchain technology companies ConsenSys and MetaX have joined forces with industry group Data & Marketing Association (DMA) to launch the adChain Registry, a blockchain-based protocol designed to eliminate bots from sullying advertising data.
The state of affairs for advertising is obscured by falsified click-through rates (clicks per mille (CPM)), which can cost advertisers a great deal of money. According to adChain Registry’s white paper, the culprits of misinformation are bots that easily mimic human behavior on websites. Measures to detect these bots boil down to a "cat and mouse game," which can leave advertisers "mostly powerless."
Mark D'Agostino, managing partner of ConsenSys’ Enterprise group, sees the adChain Registry as "a potential solution to address many of the fundamental flaws in digital advertising's broken state."
He went on to say:
"ConsenSys is extremely proud of the contribution we have made to the adChain protocol and look forward to continue our close collaboration alongside MetaX. We are genuinely excited about the utility of adToken and the transformative design patterns because open protocols like adChain represent a forward leap towards widespread Ethereum adoption.”
To combat bot traffic, ConsenSys, MetaX, and DMA created the adChain Registry, which is essentially an executable distributed code contract on the Ethereum blockchain responsible for storing vetted, accredited, bot-free domains. For the purpose of adding websites to the registry and tracking votes, the registry will use an ERC20 token, adTokens, which will be limited to a single minting of 1,000,000,000 tokens. To propose a website, applicants pay a deposit fee in adTokens and the proposed site enters into an acceptance phase; if there are no challenges, the site is added for a finite time. When the listing expires, the adToken deposit can be withdrawn by the applicant. During the acceptance phase, anyone can challenge the site by putting up the same amount of adTokens wagered to add the site to the registry. A community vote is held to see if the site is up to standard and if the site fails the challenge, the applicant forfeits his deposited adTokens, which are disbursed amongst those who came in on the winning side of the vote.
If people believe that a site already listed in the registry has bots, a challenge can also be made against the site, which incurs another vote. If the challenge is unsuccessful, the challenger forfeits his adTokens and the site remains listed in the registry. In the case where the challenge is substantiated by the vote, the applicant's adTokens are forfeited (and distributed amongst the majority voters) and the site is removed from the registry.
The key behind adChain is disincentivizing CPM as the basis through which rewards are disbursed. Because of bot-related fraud, CPM is simply an unreliable method for advertisers to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns. According to the whitepaper, rather than utilize an unwieldy reward structure, adChain "incentivizes the curation of a reputable supply pool by decoupling the incentives of the registry owners (adToken holders) from CPMs." Advertisers will pay sites that are registered on adChain to run their ads because they can trust the ads will be viewed by users and not bots.
Once it is launched, the market will be able to test the viability of adChain, and hopefully, the platform will prove successful against bots.