a mural of a sneaker advertisement with a woman standing in front
Algebraix Data plans to return data ownership to where it belongs: the individual whose data it is PHOTO: Ashim D’Silva

Wouldn’t it be nice, if we as consumers could get paid for viewing online ads? It might sweeten the constant online bombardment and maybe — just maybe — prompt some people to turn off their ad blockers. 

And wouldn’t it be nice, from an advertiser’s perspective, to know who is seeing an ad and if that person is interacting with it?

That is one of the promises of blockchain for digital advertising.

Austin, Texas-based Algebraix Data wants to try out this theory with its own variation: a platform scheduled to launch in March 2018 which pays users to watch ads in exchange for data. The company will coincide the platform launch with an initial coin offering (ICO).

‘I Own My Own Data’

In preparation for that event, this week the company launched its token pre-sale, or Simple Agreement for Future Tokens, offering 5 billion ALX Tokens to accredited investors on the SAFTlaunch.com platform, which was developed for cryptocurrency launches based on regulatory guidelines. ICOs, also known as "crowdsales," serve similar purposes as an IPO but outside the rigors of mandated capital raising regulations. 

Charles Silver, CEO of Algebraix Data
Charles Silver
The ALX Tokens are emblazoned with the Latin phrase "Ego Meum Indicium Habere," which translates to "I own my data" — a fitting theme for the tokens given Algebraix Data’s hopes to have advertisers pay people to watch videos after they provide some of their data.

CEO Charles Silver explained how it would work.

"Users download an app onto their mobile phone," he told CMSWire. "At that point they get paid a certain about of cryptocurrency — the ALX Tokens — for registering basic information such as data of birth, gender and zip code. Later, they can earn more tokens by entering additional information."

Your Data for Our Money

Its first focus will be the entertainment vertical, namely movies and television, Silver said. For example, users will get paid 500 ALX coins in exchange for watching a movie trailer. If that user chooses to share it, he’ll get paid more coins. The advertisers pay the individuals directly and Algebraix Data earns small micropayments for its part in the transaction.

Silver anticipates the platform running multiple ads — he's currently in talks with entertainment companies, but does not have any contractual obligations signed yet — as well as eventually reaching an audience in the millions as word gets around. All this depends on the success of the company's ICO.

Silver said the platform will "entertain, delight and engage" people. 

Granted, much of the picture at this point is speculation on Silver’s part. He comes to the table with experience in viral applications having run a popular company in the early 2000s that developed the RealAge Test. “We are in dialogs with everybody — Disney, Viacom, Sony, CBS etc — and they are all interested in the concept,” he said.

Returning Data Ownership 'Where it Belongs'

Algebraix Data will focus on the entertainment sector until it has reached a critical mass, which Silver defines as 10 million users. At that point, other advertisers would become interested in the platform, he explained. “Then it will really start to open to everybody — everybody that is, who is interested in direct customer acquisition and not just branded advertising.”

For instance, someone interested in buying a car could enter that information in the app. A local Ford dealer would then offer, for instance, 1,000 coins to look at an ad for a Ford Explorer, he said, opening up a realm of competition within the direct marketing world. 

It’s no accident Silver picked a car as an advertiser — he sees the bigger ticket items performing better on his platform than everyday goods. But his mission — besides making the new platform a success — is very much about the every day. “We want to get cryptocurrency in the hands of tens of millions of users and get their data ownership back to where it belongs — to the individual.”