AdFreeway’s Pioneering Advertising Platform Launched In South Africa


The new advertising platform puts the human back into the digital equation and makes advertising rewarding for everyone. 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.

Digital pioneers, Kevin Bermeister (think Skype and Kazaa) and Johannes Booysen (Yonder), have partnered to launch AdFreeway – what they believe is the next evolution in digital advertising. The platform 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.

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 said, ‘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) versus the Internet model. When I met Booysen, 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.

Digital is quantifiable, reportable and easily adaptable

Significant amounts of money also flow through the online ad exchanges at any given moment, yet almost 70% of all this currency is controlled or spent via just two platforms – Google and Facebook (Source: eMarketer) – with Amazon a strongly placed third wheel in the US market. They have, in effect, become the advertising equivalent of an oligopoly, not only owning the majority of the revenue, but pretty much all of the available human data in this regard too. People have been all too willing to disenfranchise their personal data rights.

However, as we move further into the 4IR, the pundits expect to see radical changes with respect to the monetisation of personal data – to the effect that we could all start to demand ownership over our own data deciding who we enter smart-contracts with, and who we ‘licence’ that data to.

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 in South Africa.

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.’