Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to start at MetaX?
I am the CEO and Founder of MetaX. I have been working in Advertising Technology since 2012.
Prior to starting MetaX in 2016, I founded several Advertising Technology companies and through experience, learned the Digital Advertising industry was fundamentally flawed. I began exploring new ways of addressing the known systemic issues and came to the conclusion of blockchain, conceiving MetaX as a secure and transparent solution to an industry that is dominated by private, centralized black box systems. Our work has shaped the thinking of many and through education and adoption, we hope to continue to add value to the Digital Advertising industry.
What is MetaX and how does it fit into a modern Advertising Technology stack?
How do you bridge the gap between Digital Advertising and Blockchain?
The Digital Advertising ecosystem is one of the most suitable environments for leveraging Blockchain transparency. Fraud is a huge issue for brands and publishers, and the best way to address it is to implement better tracking mechanisms to create a record of legitimate and illegitimate traffic sources for all players to reference. Once sources of fraud can be identified, we have a better chance of stymying the flow of ad dollars into bad actors. Data tracking is a strong blockchain capability that we are highlighting in our work.
Which businesses are fastest to adoption of Blockchain platforms? How does it impact Advertising and Publishing operations?
The finance industry has been one of the first verticals to begin leveraging Blockchain technology in a serious way. This shouldn’t be surprising, as the very first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was intended to disrupt our current financial system by introducing digital, peer-to-peer payments that eliminated the need for the banks to verify transactions. That said, other types of businesses are realizing the potential for harnessing the decentralizing power of blockchain to increase efficiency, security, and transparency in their own processes.
In advertising and publishing, some of the applications being explored include decentralized data sharing between brands and publishers as well as browsers like Brave that allow users to surf the web ad-free. We developed the AdChain Registry as the first token-curated registry (TCR) to launch on the Ethereum mainnet with the goal of empowering AdTech ops to determine which sites to list as premium.
Tell us more about your product AdChain and how it delivers on Transparency?
Our newest product, AdChain Audits, combines Machine Learning and the expertise of professional auditors such as Dr. Augustine Fou, to identify and reduce digital advertising campaign fraud. Brands put billions of dollars forward each year into advertising with the aim of improving ROI while the reality of the current ecosystem is such that more than 50% of the ads served cannot be verified as having been viewed by humans. Our goal is to provide brands with all of the data on who (or what) is viewing (or not viewing) their ads so that they can make the more cost-effective decisions as to where they put their ad dollars.
What is AdToken and why it could disrupt Digital Advertising technologies?
AdToken is the “cryptocurrency,” or utility token, that members of the AdChain network can use to apply for domains to be added to the AdChain Registry of community-approved premium domains. AdToken can also be used to challenge domains that shouldn’t be on the list. This new digital asset introduces new virtuous incentive models that differ from the current pervasive and misaligned incentives in the digital advertising industry. The power of adToken really lies in its ability to give ad tech ops a voice in their industry.
How can businesses maximize their ROI from investing in your platform?
Businesses can receive a complimentary audit through AdChain Audits and get real-time feedback about their campaigns. These results identifying fraudulent traffic are provided through our AdChain Audits platform and human auditor team. Thus far, one of our clients has allocated 21.55% of total campaign spend away from suspicious publishers/applications detected by AdChain audits. This translates to a 4.3 : 1 return on investment (ROI) per campaign.
Tell us about your technology integrations with Advertising and Marketing Technology platforms such as Videos, Contacts, Contracts, Email and Customer Service.
AdChain is a certified technology partner for the advertising industry’s top platforms. We focus on providing our clients with transparency into their programmatic advertising supply chains.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Blockchain technology for 2019-2020?
I predict that AI will continue to be used to influence public perception by leveraging the troves of data residing in centralized social media platforms to target people and groups with hyper-specific messaging. Such uses of AI can be incredibly dangerous and destabilizing to democratic systems if harnessed to spread misinformation and falsehoods for self-serving, political or violent ends. This is why companies like Facebook are developing their own blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies to address serious issues that threaten not only our personal privacy online but also our democracy.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
We are paying very close attention to the Brave browser.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?
I have spent time learning these new technologies to better understand the potential impact they can make not just on our business and industry but also the global market. It’s important that we understand the technologies that we’re dependent upon on a daily basis before we just “opt in” and comply.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
The easiest part about my job is that Blockchain technology itself is inspiring! MetaX provides an opportunity for smart and motivated individuals to get involved in the space. We help bridge the knowledge gap for entrance and are one of the first Blockchain startups in LA to give the community access to this new way of thinking.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Email (but hopefully a better alternative is created soon), Github, and my calendar app
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Build a team and inspire. You can’t do it alone so bring others you trust on this journey with you.
What are you currently reading?
When I’m not reading a whitepaper (I recently read, Tokenization of physical assets and the impact of IotT and AI), I’m usually reading tech and business related books. Algorithms of Oppression by Safira Umoja Noble is my current read.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
You’re the average of the five closest people in your life.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
There’s no secret, just hard work. Sorry everyone no fun here. Just call me old-fashioned.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read
Jonah Goodhart: @jonahgoodhart
Thank you, Ken! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Ken Brook is Founder and CEO of MetaX, a blockchain technology company driving development and adoption of open platforms for digital advertising. Prior to MetaX, Brook founded several adtech companies that led to his interest in developing cutting-edge technology solutions for the advertising industry.
MetaX leverages Web 2.0 and Blockchain technology to design real-world advertising solutions that diminish ad fraud and establish a transparent ecosystem. MetaX developed the AdChain Registry, the first Token-Curated Registry to be launched on Ethereum. The AdChain Registry is a decentralized database of community-approved premium digital publishers. AdChain Audits is a MetaX product with consultative services, offering scalable ad fraud solutions that provide in-depth digital campaign analysis from independent auditors.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.