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AdFreeway launches Advertising Cohorts in South Africa

Pioneering advertising platform that puts the human back into the digital equation and makes advertising rewarding for everyone

Digital pioneers, Kevin Bermeister (think Skype and Kazaa) and Johannes (Jo) Booysen (Yonder), have partnered to launch what they believe is the next evolution in digital advertising – AdFreeway.  AdFreeway is a platform that seeks to reward everyone in the digital advertising journey.  Whereas social media shaped marketing, display media did not invite opinion.  AdFreeway has closed that gap by integrating reward for participation.

For the first time, audience ethics are addressed in a model where data is directly acquired from the consumer and doesn’t belong to the platform.

In years gone by, information would be collected from television-watching audiences by means of a contract that rewarded them with money for their time and insights. This data then shaped the broadcast and advertising industry.  Fast forward to the Internet, that relationship morphed, and instead of being remunerated for the use of their data, audiences were given access to free content or services. But that, according to Bermeister and Booysen, is no longer an equitable exchange for the use of personal data.

Bermeister explains, ‘At present there is no formal acknowledgement of the trade-off in the data that is being used to retarget disenfranchised users or the equity value it brings to enterprises.  So there seemed to me to be a gap between the original model (Nielson) vs the Internet model.  When I met Jo, he had observed the same, so it made sense for us to collaborate and do something to democratise digital advertising.’

‘We want to restore and expand the professional relationship between users, agencies and the advertising platforms that run over the Internet.  We have, therefore, developed a method of valuing and paying users for their data.  This is the highest-level objective for AdFreeway – we want to humanise digital advertising and create a value-exchange.’

Combining the best of both worlds, AdFreeway has created a user cohort paradigm, where audiences who engage with online advertising – by means of a thumbs up or down vote – are rewarded for their input and the performance value they bring, through a universal cohort to global advertising campaigns. These rewards are redeemed (after registration) via the AdFreeway platform and come in various different guises – cash, product, free airtime, substantial discounts etc.

The marketing world has been switched onto the power of online advertising for a while now.  Each second of the day, millions of ads are served up to a ready-made audience surfing the net – whether via their computer or mobile phone.  Enormous amounts of data are generated, and Internet users are tracked through their various journeys and behaviour and are profiled, making it easier for campaign managers to serve them just what they want to see or know.

AdFreeway shakes up the status-quo, by introducing the marketing industry to a new, more ethical lifeline through which to advertise, whilst simultaneously building real time behaviour insights and restoring professional relationships with audiences to further refine ad campaigns.  The rewarding nature of the platform also generates long-term brand loyalty – which has been seen throughout the pilots conducted in Australia, the USA and here in South Africa.

‘AdFreeway has a number of advantages including addressing “ad blindness”, which occurs because attention to message sensitivity is generally ignored by advertisers, it’s a complex problem, but we have simplified it by asking users and applying their preferences to other users,’ says Bermeister.

More specifically, advantages include:

For the agency – AdFreeway reduces CPC (Cost Per Click), increases engagement and makes better use of client budgets. Spend the same amount on digital campaigns and realise up to 3X better click through rates.  AdFreeway pays consumers to share their instincts and covers that by improving media buys.  Agencies get a discounted performance tool that performs against established digital platforms, with the opportunity to develop new engagement and show direct attribution. A digital buy closes the loop by attributing actual sales from campaign issued rewards that track impression to purchase – not just a performance against a CPM, CPV, CPC or CPA model.

For the brand – AdFreeway will buy and issue rewards from the brand in question, which reduces media costs and results in happier customers, enhanced brand reputation, increased business revenue, loyalty along with the increased likelihood of additional customers.  The more users vote, the smarter ad campaigns become and the better they service the brand.  Data intel from the campaigns can be shared with brand owners and agencies.

For the user – rewards are garnered for voting on ads and for participation value added to the global cohort of users.  The user’s permission, vote and unique interest help to curate creative preference, thus preventing inappropriate, unwanted and annoying ads from being served and opening the channel for better ones for the user and their audience members. The more they vote, the more they earn, quickly becoming a new generation of brand ambassadors that spill into social media.

Booysen is encouraged by the results from the pilot project AdFreeway conducted at the end of 2020 with a well-known local retail brand. ‘The response from users during this trial was exceptional.  Without us even educating the market as to the thumbs up or down voting mechanism, South African Internet users got it – and quickly.  Before we knew it, many users were sharing their experiences of being rewarded across their social media channels, even encouraging their followers to look out for the ads so they too could be rewarded.’

‘For the brand, increased in store traffic could be directly attributed to the campaign and feedback shows that basket size also increased.’


AdFreeway, is currently engaging with advertising and media buying agencies across South Africa and will be hosting a series of webinar workshops.


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