[Exclusive Interview] Meet Oleksii, CEO & Co-Fonder of Slise
Today we have the chance to welcome Oleksii, CEO & Co-Founder of Slise, a Web3-native ad platform. Together with him, we will go through what Slise is about, who is the team behind the protocol, what makes Slise different, why he thinks that Ads can be an alternative growth tool for web3 projects, and many more. Let’s get started!
Before we start: I personally came across Slise while reading the MVB VI announcement. Being from the online marketing industry myself, I immediately felt in love with the project. Especially because as a web2 marketer, I see the limitation of online marketing in web3. Last but not least, as a loyal listener of the Good Game Podcast, I was impressed to see that Slise was in one of the Alliance DAO cohort.
Small disclaimer: I managed to convince Oleksii to let me invest in their round.
[SurferInvestor] Could you please summarise briefly what Slise is about?
[Oleksii] Slise is a web3-native ad network. At Slise, we help web3 projects tap into the top 1% of the crypto audience and acquire advanced crypto users in a scalable way. On the other side, we help web3 projects who have users to monetize through advertising, and start generating revenue. We can bring a sustainable revenue stream and, most importantly, we make it more efficient than other solutions by using on-chain data of users for personalization.
[Oleksii] The final goal is to leverage all the rich on-chain data to build a more transparent and personalized ad experience while preserving user privacy. The anonymous wallet data by itself presents a lot of data on user’s assets, communities, and financial and entertainment activity which can be used for marketing in a very direct way. DeFi builders would love to show their ads to those who have staked tokens in the wallet, and P2E developers would pay a lot to target the holders of GMT token (from StepN), and everyone, of course, would want to target whales, haha.
[Oleksii] Here also, a great summary of the use-case of Slise. Source: Twitter
[SurferInvestor]Could you please introduce the founding team? What is their background and what makes them the right team to run Slise?
[Oleksii] Based on our past experience, we make a strong team to tackle this challenge:
As a CEO, I’m a second-time founder with a background in AI and data. Previously I built a company that went through Y Combinator and before that, I was an AI researcher in Meta AI and Oxford.
Our CTO is a strong engineer with 15 years of experience, ten of them in CTO roles, and one exit.
And our last Co-Founder is an Ivy League graduate, who is an ad expert from Google Ads, where he was working on the user privacy product.
[Oleksii] All of these experiences complement each other and create a full-fledged force we need to win over this market.
[SurferInvestor]How did the idea of Slise come to life?
[Oleksii] It all started with one question: “How can we solve the big problems with marketing in the Web3 space?” We saw a huge gap in Web3, where experienced marketers don’t have good tools, use no analytics, and everything works at primitive levels of the 2000-s with Twitter shills and click-to-earn campaigns that bring no value: there is no retention, no targeting, no transparency, and no way to scale it.
[Oleksii] But the times are changing, and we saw that this wild west situation won’t last long in web3 and advanced performance marketing will replace is as the market matures. (And we already see this trend coming to life with martech tools like Spindl and Absolut labs raising huge rounds)
[Oleksii] We started by building an analytics solution for the analysis of wallets, holders, and the creation of lookalike audiences which are very popular in web2. But later, as we built out this tool, we saw a bigger problem. Say, we can produce some insights, we can generate a list of wallets, which would be the perfect audience that you as a marketer want to reach, but how would you actually go and do it? That’s what we faced with our clients — the analytics is useless without a distribution channel to apply it to.
[Oleksii] Once we realized that there are no tools on the market that would allow us to reach those wallets/users we decided to pivot in this direction. The ad market is obviously huge, the need to reach users can’t be more real, so we decided to take and build this distribution part of the pipeline ourselves.
[SurferInvestor]What item on the roadmap gets you the most excited?
[Oleksii] Bringing value to our first clients and producing meaningful unit economics for them is our top priority. For example, allowing advertisers to bring new users at a cost of acquisition that is lower than LTV. Funnily enough, it’s not that common in web3 marketing today ;-). This alone already would be quite exciting — to see the real value produced by our product.
[Oleksii] Apart from that, we are also looking forward to starting to do wallet-targeted ads on Web2 surfaces. So that’s something that would be our unique offering and it will take time to implement, but can be a game-changer for the web3 growth as it will allow to tap into much larger web2 ad inventory.
[Oleksii] On a bigger scale, we really wait for the moment when we, with our targeting capabilities, will be able to introduce a CPC model to the web3 ad market. Currently all the ads in web3 are sold based on CPM. But it’s smarter for advertisers and publishers to sell on CPC, especially when you can make ads more efficient with personalization. Because personalization means that from the same traffic, you can generate more clicks and better performance. And advertisers always want to pay for actual results and not just impressions. So we want to get there eventually, but now we have to follow the market rules.
[SurferInvestor]Are there already some live use cases you could share with us?
[Oleksii] We just recently went live, with 8 publishers being active in the first week. We are not sharing the whole list publicly, but what I can tell, is that they all have wallet connections, and cover a range of advanced crypto-applications such as DeFi, NFT trading, explorers, and Web3 gaming platforms. We are adding more of them as we speak, so you will start seeing more of our banners around quite soon.
[Oleksii] On the advertiser side, we have a mix of startups that just launching and big projects, such from the latter you may know Binance, Trezor, QuickNode, and Ledger.
[Oleksii] One interesting use case which we didn’t expect — because of all the performance analytics advertisers began to run AB-tests that they were not able to do before, and saw a difference in the conversion of different messaging sometimes up to 5 times!
[SurferInvestor]The web3 advertising space is heating up. What are you doing differently?
[Oleksii] We see that the marketing tech in web3 is getting hotter overall, but most of the action is happening on the side of analytics or other areas different from what we do. Some try to analyze wallets or give you insights about your audience, others do attribution and track users after they clicked or came to your landing page. Basically, everything that covers more traditional SaaS models. And what we do is capture unique traffic through partnerships and building distribution technology. So far, we see very little competition in this space because it’s actually the hardest work no one wants to do.
[Oleksii] We also need to create demand and supply simultaneously and manage this dynamic system of ads inventory moving around so it’s always in balance. Also, those partnerships are not easy to make because people in web3 are quite skeptical about ads and everyone is still very delusional that they going to make money out of thin air just by launching a token. Generating an inventory of user attention and bringing value to advertisers is the most important and most difficult part of this flow.
[Oleksii] Also, on the differentiation side, we found an interesting edge in not just publishing ads on the dApps but in bringing this web3 data to web2 and tapping into the ad inventory of web2 platforms. In simple words, we allow to show ads where users are used to seeing them in media publications, coin trackers, or just different content websites but do it based on the on-chain data.
[Oleksii] We look at the ad tech side of things not so much from a web3 innovation perspective but rather from how we can bring what works in web2 to web3. Projects want to spend money on growth, but they want to see new users in return. Not to feed drop hunters or send cool NFT, but on delivering their message to web3 users and receiving their genuine attention and clicks based on the real interest in the project. That’s kind of what differentiates us specifically in our niche.
[SurferInvestor]Why do you think that Ads can be a great alternative growth tool for web3 projects?
[Oleksii] As of now, we see that a lot of growth in web3 is not sustainable and it’s just somewhat delusional. Paying people for actions doesn’t work at scale in general. It can come in different forms like rewards for attention, or paid reposts, or quests where you pay for doing a task. Or even stuff like wallet messaging where you have to pay to send a message or send paid NFTs. It just doesn’t seem to work because of the very simple reason that the CPM of such campaigns becomes enormous.
[Oleksii] People don’t react to them more if it’s a message to their wallet or an airdrop. People either ignore it or treat it as any other advertising. But CPM of such campaigns could be in hundreds of dollars — very expensive and will never generate a corresponding return.
[Oleksii] Saying “sign up in exchange for our token” ( or some other reward), produces negative LTV because such users only come for the incentive, and leave right after receiving it. They had no interest in your offering or your product in the first place. And you didn’t even try to communicate it. Try to scale it — and it will destroy even the existing userbase you had.
[Oleksii] On the other hand, in case of the ads, we allow projects to deliver their message to the users. It serves a different purpose, which is fundamentally healthier: we allow companies to reach a specific set of users (ideally. not a generic audience, but rather users who have specific attributes and who might be interested in the product you are selling), and we allow them to show target message like: “hey, we’re doing this and that, which you may like, come and try it”. In that case, users will be incentivized to come and use your product not because you pay them, but because they are interested in what it does.
[Oleksii] We believe that ads are here to stay with us, even in web3. They still work and there’s nothing fundamentally bad in them. I think that airdrops and free gifts for no reason are actually more damaging for the ecosystem because they create a negative incentive loop for people just wasting money and other people just trying to benefit from it. So that’s why I’m a long-term believer in ads, especially if they are well-optimized, targeted, and relevant for a user.
[SurferInvestor]Do you plan to be only the Adnetwork for now? Or also to become the DSP and SSP?
[Oleksii] Basically, we have everything already because we had to build and connect all the parts from scratch. This infrastructure is not available in web3 for us to easily integrate. So we already have our own a simple DSP, a simple version of SSP and DMP in place. We also build the bidding system. And it all it has to be compatible with traditional web2 ad systems, that will allow us to tap into their users’ attention and their traffic as well.
[SurferInvestor]How many people are on the team?
[Oleksii] Right now we are eight people. Four people on the business development side and four building the product.
[SurferInvestor]In an ideal world, how would Slise look in 5 years?
[Oleksii] In the future, we see Slise being a major player in the web3 advertising industry. In five years adoption will be much wider. Considering all the cycles, ups and downs, we see that the trend will continue and the market will grow. And I hope that Slise can capture a double-digit percentage of this emerging market.
[Oleksii] Of course, the whole web3 marketing will change into more efficient and more scalable ecosystem with what we and our partners are building. The end-users will see less noise and spam, while the marketing budgets won’t be wasted on empty impressions, but will go into tailored user-centric experiences.
[SurferInvestor]For people who wanna jump in, how to get started?
[Oleksii] They can just text me on telegram or via email. We handle everything manually and it’s very easy to start with our help. We are always in contact and easy to reach. We’re ready to help dApps monetize their traffic, or grow and acquire real Web3-native users.
[SurferInvestor]Any alpha you would wanna share with our readers?
[Oleksii] We joined Binance Accelerator and we’re going to present at Binance Demo Day. Since then, we started to receive a lot of inbound. And even though we’re not raising yet, we have started to take early checks, so for people who want to invest as an angel this could be an alpha.
I would like to take the time to thank Oleksii for answering our questions. Especially while he is a) raising a round and b) releasing ad widgets on 8 platforms at the same time. As an investor in the project, I wish him and the team all the best for the next releases.