THEMIS: Decentralized and Trustless Ad Platform with Reporting Integrity

07/10/2020 ∙ by Goncalo Pestana, et al. ∙ 0

Online advertising fuels the (seemingly) free internet. However, although users can access most websites free of charge, they need to pay a heavy cost on their privacy and blindly trust third parties and intermediaries that absorb great amounts of adrevenues and user data. This is one of the reasons users opt out from advertising by resorting ad blockers thatin turn cost publishers millions of dollars in lost adrevenues. Existing privacy-preserving advertising approaches(e.g., Adnostic, Privad, Brave Ads) from both industry and academia cannot guarantee the integrity of the performance analytics they provide to advertisers, while they also rely on centralized management that users have to trust without being able to audit. In this paper, we propose THEMIS, a novel privacy-by-design ad platform that is decentralized and requires zero trust from users. THEMIS (i) provides auditability to all participants, (ii) rewards users for viewing ads, and (iii) allows advertisers to verify the performance and billing reports of their ad campaigns. To demonstrate the feasibility and practicability of our approach, we implemented a prototype of THEMIS using a combination of smart contracts and zero-knowledge schemes. Performance evaluation results show that during adreward payouts, THEMIS can support more than 51M users on a single-sidechain setup or 153M users ona multi-sidechain setup, thus proving that THEMIS scales linearly.

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