It takes a lot of pluck to set yourself against the world’s largest tech giants. But it’s exactly what Michael Hahn is doing with ReverseAds, a startup that aims to revolutionize online advertising.
ReverseAds was launched in Phuket, Thailand, on the strength of a compelling idea: online advertising that doesn’t spy on people. Until now, digital advertising has been dominated by tech giants that make you feel like you’re enjoying free services when in fact, you’re providing them with your personal data. ReverseAds is dedicated to protecting user privacy.
“90% of the digital advertising spend every year goes to three tech giants,” Hahn says. “They are literally tracking and surveilling every website that you go to, every store that you go to. They're tracking your physical location. They're monitoring everything you do online. Big tech is making hundreds of billions of dollars per year off of us.”
Reverseads.com is a keyword advertising platform for the open web. It differs from similar platforms in that its technology is not based on tracking everything a user does online, but on predicting what a user will do next. It utilizes an AI, trained with anonymized user data, to anticipate user actions based on initial keywords. This approach ensures privacy while improving the relevance of adverts.
In late 2021, Hahn won the Huawei Spark Ignite competition in Singapore. He had entered to get exposure, a way to promote his fledging startup. He got way more than that from the contest. After the win, ReverseAds secured US$4.2 million for their Series A funding. The firm moved from laid-back southern Thailand to the thriving international city of Singapore. And since then, major venture capital VC firms have been in touch, bringing ReverseAds closer to the big league and realizing its ambition to change digital advertising.
But Hahn’s journey with ReverseAds is only starting. To learn more about the startup, watch Re-imagining Advertising, a striking documentary produced by Huawei’s award-winning filmmaker Susie Song.
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