Companies spend billions every year on marketing and ads. Yet consumers are often frustrated by intrusive pop-ups and ineffectively-targeted ads. What if it were possible for companies to ensure their ads were only viewed by people who were interested in their product/service and who would really pay attention? That’s the the goal behind AdWallet.
AdWallet has created a platform that strategically pairs users with ads that would appeal to them. When users engage with an ad, they are monetarily rewarded for their time. And the companies providing the ads know that their ads are much more likely to result in sales because the user’s interest was confirmed. We reached out to founder Adam Greenhood to find out the origin of AdWallet and what investors should know about the company.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
AdWallet gives advertisers the ability to directly reward highly-targeted consumers for their first party data and attention. For consumers, AdWallet is where ads finally become welcomed opportunities, rather than unwanted interruptions.
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
After working as a creative director in advertising for 20 years, I could no longer look my clients in the eye when they asked a very simple question, “Did anyone even pay attention to my ad?” Advertisers in the US pay more than $250 billion a year for our attention. What if they could just offer all that money directly to consumers? It struck me, if someone was offering to pay for my attention… I might be far more likely to provide it. I designed AdWallet to enable that value exchange to finally happen.
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
I was a creative director for some of the best advertising agencies and brands in the US. I deeply understood some of the key challenges facing my industry, and I wanted to fix them. Also, as a creative director, I was very comfortable pitching and selling new ideas/concepts to people. I have discovered that this skill set was very valuable in starting (and running) a startup.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
When it comes to advertising and marketing, it’s time to clean up our act. We’re all starting to see the beginning stages of this evolution with data privacy legislation, the end of the “cookie,” and a movement toward much more transparency for the consumer in general. I believe in the future, all ads will reward consumers for their data and attention (in some form or fashion) and in turn, consumers will use those rewards to purchase the content that they want. If you want someone’s attention, you are going to need to buy it (or earn it) — not steal it or interrupt it.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
As an entrepreneur, I firmly believe surrounding yourself with a great team is the most critical component to potential success. I have been blessed to be surrounded by some of the most talented people in their respective fields. Our CTO, Jason Merkoski, is the former head of product design at Amazon and was the lead engineer on the “Kindle” design team. Our CRO, Toby McKenna, has 20+ years of experience in scaling digital advertising platforms. She was the architect of some of the most successful digital publishers in the US including: The NYTimes, AMEX, Priceline, and Yahoo!. Our CFO, Matthew Culler, has 15+ years of experience working in venture capital and for successful startups.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Currently, no one is cultivating and rewarding for attention and data like we are at AdWallet. Our closest competition are sites that reward consumers for pennies on the hour for essentially driving up (fake) engagement so they can sell their digital ad properties for more money. These are otherwise known as “click farms.” This is not how AdWallet works at all, but when folks hear “ads” and “rewards,” they often assume we are like those other platforms. After they sign up, they quickly see we’re very, very different.
On AdWallet, advertisers control the opportunities that are sent to members. In this way, consumers can’t hop on AdWallet all day and accomplish fake tasks for money. The consumer is sent a text when there is an opportunity that’s been curated for them specifically. Some days they are a match, some days they aren’t.
What does your business model look like?
At its core, it’s actually fairly simple. Advertisers pay us to send their ad to the right AdWallet member. When the targeted member verifies they have fully paid attention to the ad, the advertiser’s account is charged and the member (and AdWallet) are paid. For each engagement a member accomplishes, AdWallet takes a percentage of the fee charged back to the advertiser, and the member keeps the rest.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
Our core mission is to decentralize advertising and enable everyone to finally take part in the value exchange for their own data & attention. The decentralized nature of equity crowdfunding aligns perfectly with our mission. Consumers should be able to have an AdWallet — and own a piece of it too. We plan to use the funds from Republic to continue strategically growing our membership and marketing the platform to advertisers.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
AdWallet was not a company started by a Silicon Valley “bro.” I’m a 20-year advertising veteran that knows this problem intimately and felt it was time to disrupt the current state of advertising. AdWallet has an excellent management team and early traction for our solution. If you believe it’s time that everyone be included in the massive value exchange for their personal data and attention… I hope you’ll consider joining us.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
Our goal is that within five years, AdWallet has 15-to-20 million members that are earning $10-to-$20 a month for the attention they choose to provide to products and services that add value to their lives. Potential exits for AdWallet would most likely be partnering with systems that currently rely on ads to support the content that they provide. AdWallet would enable these platforms to finally provide a completely “ad free” experience for their viewers/subscribers — while still being able to monetize targeted ads outside of their platform. A simple example is that a video-on-demand service (like Netflix) could monetize targeted ads to their millions of subscribers, without running a single ad interruption within the service.
We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Adam and his team take the company. AdWallet is currently raising on Republic.