Media Spend, Costs, ROI and Superbowl ads


A while back Goku shared this twitter breakdown of Kusama treasury spending to date.

And helpfully included this spreadsheet of spending.

At various points people have requested a more forensic treasury audit alongside some assessment of ROI - see Adoption, metrics, treasury spending and ROI - open discussion thread.

In the continuing spirit of (unpaid) public interest reporting I’ve broken down the WagMedia and Kusamarian proposals to give holders an idea of the value for money they have been getting.

I have used SocialBlade for analytics (it’s all public data) and their ad-revenue estimates.

WagMedia / Kusamarian funding, impact and ROI

Here are the highlights - the full spreadsheet with calculations is below.

For comparison of relative costs / reach and impact, I’ve included the cost per 1000 (CPM) of a Super Bowl ad.

The estimates are due to there being literally no way to find most Wag-Media funded content.

There is no destination, no aggregation, no website? Why?

Well because the strategy appeared to be built around paying people to spray stuff across all of the internet like some insane acid trip treasure hunt… don’t trust those centralising grifters, this is decentralisation in action!

Remember before you read this you get AAG for free - its a public good donated kindly by the team.

Jay + Team all proposals
Total cost $1,831,848.00
Uploads 1000 (estimate)
Subscribers 5,000 (estimate)
Total views 500,000 (estimate)
Cost per sub $366.37
Cost per view $3.66
Cost per 1000 $3,664
Potential ad revenue per month
Low = $0.25 CPM $4 estimate
High = $4.00 CPM $40 estimate
Potential ad revenue per year
Low = $0.25 CPM $30 estimate
High = $4.00 CPM $450 estimate
Superbowl comparison
30 second spot $6.5m
Total reach 111,000,000
Cost per 1000 $58.30

Kusamarian data source
Total cost $752,271.00
Uploads 559
Subscribers 3,600
Total views 276,688
Cost per sub $208.96
Cost per view $2.72
Cost per 1000 $2,719
Ad revenue per month
Low = $0.25 CPM $2
High = $4.00 CPM $34
Ad revenue per year
Low = $0.25 CPM $25
High = $4.00 CPM $404
Superbowl comparison
30 second spot $6.5m
Total reach 111,000,000
Cost per 1000 $58.30
Polkadot Romania - data source
Total cost $42,346.00
Uploads 139
Subscribers 389
Total views 14,947
Cost per sub $108.86
Cost per view $2.83
Cost per 1000 $2,833
Ad revenue per month
Low = $0.25 CPM $2
High = $4.00 CPM $34
Ad revenue per year
Low = $0.25 CPM $25
High = $4.00 CPM $404
Superbowl comparison
30 second spot $6.5m
Total reach 111,000,000
Cost per 1000 $58.30

On-chain metrics / measurement

None of this was considered until I introduced what I thought was a very obvious idea about linking media to on-chain impact with this proposal.

Given Kusama is not Google, there is little point building YouTube channels that do not have a direct link to the network.

I doubt any bright people will fall for this ser.

If they can get past the false equivalence of comparing Polkadot content to the Superbowl…

Your forensic study neglected to include data for The Kusamarian’s main avenue of distribution, Twitter. Or TikTok… We’ll be publishing this data shortly but with 20% of this funding period (since Feb 1) still to go, we are up against or well-exceeding our declared targets of 3,640,000 impressions, 520,000 views, and 5,700 new followers (on Twitter) and 520,000 Views w/ 52,000 Likes on TikTok.

This “deep look” also missed the dashboard, the WagMedia weekly roundup, several other digests produced by non-anglo units (all found with a search on Polkadot’s own social network L1)… the twitter pages dedicated to non-anglo or domain-specific. How about the detailed content and data reports from those groups who started in WagMedia but matured to creating initiatives of their own?

It also seems their independent spends were conflated in this report under “Jay and team” which would be an offence to them and their efforts.

A serious auditor may have included some context to those spend numbers… maybe time, the hundreds of people who participated as the market dumped 75.8%, the number of them who became full time workers for ecosystem projects, (the costs of hiring otherwise), the curve of building an audience from 0, perhaps the spending that was happening previously via the council, its success, and the improvement or degradation from that?

Besides taking the time to gather accurate data, maybe interviews, or requests, a valuable audit would need to be non-biased. But the truth is that you’ve been talking about grassroots social movements built around content creation and narratives for years… but have nothing to show for it. Worse: not only do your wandering posts get little traction wherever you spray them, in the twitter thread which may have inspired this revenge post it seems to be suggested that members of the Polkadot community are individually flagging your posts as spam in addition to ignoring them.

I think I privately and kindly suggested over a year ago that people may take you less seriously if you kept talking without building. And I’m not sure this post has done any good for your reputation as an auditor.

We’ll gladly work hand in glove with any good faith auditor interested in working with us. Transparency is held as an asset of high value in all our previous reports.

AAG pushes 10 hours of work/week, not counting researching the proposals themselves. You’re welcome :stuck_out_tongue:


Given your stated intent has been to “solve DotSamas” marketing problem, a positioning that has ensured you have received ongoing and largely unquestioned funding, I am simply looking to benchmark current achievements based on your own self imposed KPIs.

I was hard pressed to find a comparable CPM given the results and the spend to date.

Happy for you to provide comparisons - this would be a great addition to your upcoming report.

This link appears to be broken? Please share a working link, would happily review.

This was not my definition - another independent community aggregated spends that WagMedia coordinated and brought to the treasury. Please clarify if this is not the case - again it would be useful as part of your next report to outline all of the spends WagMedia have played a part in.

To be clear the definition: Wagmedia + kusamarian = jay+team

This is irrelevant, please stay on-topic.

I am aware of the curve of building an audience from 0.

Given basic analysis of publicly available data, this growth is not happening when we assess the most reliable statistics aka YouTube.

Twitter under Musk are back to playing new games with attention based vanity metrics to score new advertisers and hype.

Views cleverly repackage ‘impressions’ to inflate the perceived attention on the platform.

The views metric illustrates something that digital media publishers have long known: People spend a lot of time scrolling through Twitter, but very little time interacting with tweets. Most “views” occur with the same amount of intention and attention you might devote to watching cars go by while you wait for the light to change.

Tiktok is bad in a completely different but equally misleading way:

TikTok videos automatically play whether you want them to or not. That’s the same as almost all the others on this list.

The difference is that on TikTok, the very second your video starts to play, it’s counted as a view. If the video autoplays or loops, or a viewer or even you come back to watch it multiple times, those all count as new views.

So you could essentially just sit there with 3 devices continually watching your video again and again and again and those views would be seen as legitimate by TikTok.

Aside from that, what is the point of targeting TikTok?

What do you hope to achieve other than a bunch of vanity metrics?

By continuing this approach, we are as a public fund, contributing to the broken incentives that Web3 (as it is positioned) seeks to resist.

Your strategy needs to change, radically, or it should continue unfunded.

Shall we stay on topic?

You have willingly elevated yourself to a public position - your initiatives have taken large chunks of public funds - the spotlight is on you, not me.

I invested in Polkadot/Kusama in 2017 and took part in Edgeware’s lockdrop.

I have used returns from that to fund my work and the work of others, aiming to stay as independent as possible.

I believe that current incentives do not work in the best interests of the whole, but instead drive towards highly individualist and extractive behaviour that actually subverts the principles of Web3 and actually compounds the issues we have with the incumbent attention economy.

Do you think this a good thing?

Seen another way, you can view AAG as an emerging bureaucracy whose mere existence gives signal of a broken system of incentives.

Play this forward a little bit - will AAG be 10x better once your team spends 100 hours a week researching proposals? How about when its 1000 hours?

Your team’s work ethic is admirable, but as I’ve said before, being busy and being effective are not the same.

I believe this may be relevant to you.

I look forward to reviewing your upcoming reports as a concerned (and unpaid) public citizen.

Man, this is full of lies & distortion. So much bait… I don’t know why you’re so upset about these contributions. You have a lot of ideas and criticism but somehow no working prototype built on mere words. I’ve said many times in good faith that I’d be enthusiastic to see your ideas working and collaborate. The main goal here is to create a stable network of info exchange upon which participants can make clear choices… not that other thing you said.

I don’t have time to read the rest I will go back to politely ignoring you (please don’t tag me in any more essays!)

If anyone reads through this thinks something needs attention I’d be glad to clear it up.

Please tell me how public data and analytics are distortion?

Please tell me how Twitter and TikTok are not inflating views?

Please educate me as to the strategy around the content distribution plans right now?

Please help me understand your thinking for how to link media spending w/ on-chain adoption?

I have said on many occasions - publicly and privately that I think you’re a great storyteller.

You’re engaging, you’re interesting and you’re funny. People warm to you.

I am critiquing the (current) WagMedia/Kusamarian strategy - and ultimately all media spending that has so far spent well over $3m in Kusama and probably similar in Polkadot…

When we bring in the events spending and other educational stuff, the treasuries have spent over $20m which in crypto is a drop in the pan, but back in the real world this is insane.

I pointed this out well ahead of the HACN stuff which began mid May and came as so much of a surprise to most people, because to me it was blindingly obvious this was coming.

I am pointing out issues, believe it or not to help. Instead I just get shitty messages, passive aggressive mentions appealing to the mob, with other well respected members piling in.

I can take this, I’ve had much worse, but this is behaviour is happening a lot to those who do not have the ability or the experience or the confidence to respond - I see that as bullying, and I don’t like it.

This is why I hate the attention economy, and now the way treasuries divide talent and pit everyone against each other and why I have been for a long time campaigning for us funding directions over domains, because then we unite people within cross-disciplinary collectives.

I have been careful to critique ideas and organisations, not people - even with KappaSigmaMu, that used comedy to critique ideas.

I’m not perfect, and i’m certainly not impervious to criticism - and trolling.

I’m giving this feedback now - ahead of your reports, because if you don’t think about some of the points I’m making before you come and propose again, I think token holders will be more educated and you will find it harder to continue getting funded.

Take it or leave it, its up to you. Believe it or not I would like to see your work continue.

I think it is fair to be critical of treasury spending, and admit that the budget has not always led to the best dollar for dollar return.

However, there are differences between hiring “contractors” to do one off jobs, akin to a Superbowl Ad, and building a community which lasts, akin to hiring an employee for a job or supporting specific groups like Wagmedia + Kusamarian.

Yes, the costs are greater up front. For the first months of hiring a new employee, you are basically paying them to be trained. But the goal is that this upfront cost will pay dividends.

You have presented data which suggests a not incredible growth for Wagmedia / Kusamarian (W/K). I think this is not fair given the market conditions of the broader crypto ecosystem. A fair comparison would be to see how W/K has grown in comparison to other ecosystem specific media outlets. Here is an example just after a quick google search which seems to place Jay’s work as doing better than that for another community.

Unfortunately, the crypto community loves to watch pump / dump videos rather than engaging technical and philosophical content. I can say as someone who is super ingrained into this community, that even I learn and take away new ideas from W/K. This speaks to a value which is beyond naive popularity metrics, and instead is a measure of quality and content.

I view this thread as attacking a specific member in the community, not constructive, and likely against the guidelines of the forum. You have not, as far as I have seen, actually proposed any solution. I too have made suggestions on improving how much and how to measure funding for social media groups in Polkadot, but I do so as a generality, not with the goal of attacking any specific group, especially one that seems to have done good work.

Funding for W/K will now take place through the open governance process. You should use your DOT tokens to vote up or down proposals, as other have done. I think we are already seeing a trend to be more conservative for spending.

This is not the first time @rich has been warned about such rants / attacks on this forum, and I would suggest you take a step back from the keyboard, and reflect on why your posts are not being well received on this platform.


Note that the post below was meant as a reply to the first answer to the original post, but upon releasing it, it appeared immediately as flagged and my account got restricted, which is why it appears only two days later, and only after many other people have made related or unrelated arguements.

A very well-formed reply indeed to a post that looked very confused in what it was trying to compare!

Though as unclear as it looked to me, OP raised an important question about whether the funding of different media outlets is relevant to the Polkadot ecosystem, with regards to the costs they generate. This is - at least - how I read his post.

In that regards I think your answer fails to address the core issue to focus on the form and side matters.

It probably shows that I have little understanding about the topic of media, but I don’t think knowing the number of twitter likes or the number of tiktok views would give anybody like myself any indication about the positive impact of media outlets to the ecosystem (this, letting alone the fact that those metrics are totally game-able anyway).

The content I have seen seems to me really designed to appeal to people already present in and familiar with the ecosystem, and therefore bring very little additional value (arguably besides retention which is hard to attribute anyway, as people rarely stay in an ecosystem for the quality of the media contents produced there).

By opening to different platforms - say tiktok - there could be a number of new signers, who could just be the watchers already signed on - say youtube. You see, to the layman, none of those number crushing would qualify as a good metric of the positive value brought to the ecosystem any more than the superbowl ones.

Since you took the time to point factual omissions in the original post, can I suggest you to push the exercise further and clarify some quantifiable benefits that this form of media marketing brought to the chain over time? It is badly needed and would be very helpful to clarify doubts that could emerge with respect to the current media funding strategy.

More generally, within the current polarising discussions regarding HACN, an entity that seems very unimpressed by the funding decisions over the last years, I have been seeing here and there a lot of noise about how this was evil, not to fund “proven teams”. I would like to turn the argument upside-down: are there really so many people who think the current situation reflects a good management of the project funded over the last few years? Isn’t it more likely that the people who interact the most and are the most vocal are precisely the ones who have some financial benefit about maintaining some presence here, while a part of the people who don’t are just silently disagreeing?

It seems that to some people, not being present to discuss on some fora should prevent any influence in the decision making process. Maybe it used to implicitly work like this with the council, not with opengov anymore. With all this, this forum increasingly looks like an echo chamber, where the usual folks all self-congratulate and get funded, and now even start to feel like censoring posts by using the spamfilter. I am coming from a community where it would have been totally unacceptable, and I cannot express how despicable I find those practices to be, despite the said posts being far too verbose to my own likings.

So what you are witnessing is the totally understandable fact that a (for now majority) part of the current voting stake in the network, unwilling to pursue the previous playbook that they’ve seen failing, lets his voice being known without being willing to take part to a circus. There is nothing evil about this, and this viewpoint is infinitely respectable.

I have been in the past supporting your team with my vote but I too, am precisely wondering today whether the impact of your content on the ecosystem has been worth the cost. And I have to say that - as confused as the original post was - I find your answer unnecessarily scoffing and not of the kind that I feel is properly addressing the legitimate concerns expressed. In doubt, and till this gets clarified, I would now vote with HACN regarding any of your media expenses.


Rich you need to start posting TLDR’s for your posts. They have great analysis but they usually miss the hard hitting takeaway for the masses.

Here’s chatgpt’s attempt:

This post provides an analysis of Kusama treasury’s spending on the WagMedia and Kusamarian projects. The author uses SocialBlade analytics to calculate value for money, highlighting high cost-per-view and cost-per-subscriber ratios. They compare these costs with a Super Bowl ad, hinting at inefficient spending. The author suggests the need for a direct link between media output and on-chain network impact to ensure effectiveness.

Here’s my take:

I agree that the spending does seem a bit out of line if you purely compare CPMs, but comparing to superbowl imho is not a fair take:

  • Superbowl ad only lasts 30 seconds
  • Superbowl ad does not create lasting reusable content
  • Superbowl ad does not create useful content for the community

As far as I understand, Jay, Kusamarian and Polkadot Romania are not about getting eyeballs on Polkadot and Kusama, but about making sure the community is informed about what is happening. Someone needs to do this.


This is correct. The ultimate goal of our team’s media creation is to create a reliable and stable network of info exchange upon which tokenholders can make the best decisions. Very much like a public access service. This is laid out prominently in our proposals. A separate focus on metrics was established this funding period in response to the will of some tokenholders and has not hurt the former mission one bit.

@remz I was simply addressing the troll post on the grounds it established. No point spending time talking deeper philosophy in this particular forum. Strange situation with your post getting flagged. And why does it only say you joined a day ago I wonder. :thinking:


I’m not sure a view is the same as an impression. I think you may have calculated your CPM on views, when it should be calculated on impressions.

Also, I’m not sure you can make a comparison between something that has the ability to have impressions (without 100% resulting in a view) such as a Superbowl ad (depending on the ad type and placement) and an organic YouTube video which will just have views I believe, not impressions.

This has a simple answer and a not so simple one.

The simple answer is this was calculated using views - as defined by Google/YouTube. The CPMs are then modelled by SocialBlade based on publicly available data and ad industry standards. As you can see from the CPM, there is a huge disparity between the value at the bottom and then that at the top - which may be paid by top brands to place ads on certain videos at certain times.

In the end it’s supply and demand which dictates the changing pricing.

The more complicated answer, which I noted in a previous answer is every social platform measures views (and indeed impressions) differently.

Here’s a post outlining some of these differences.

The primary motivation for social networks is to capture attention and then package that and sell it on to advertisers.

The primary reason Twitter now shows you “views” is not because this is more accurate, but because it inflates the perceived reach of the platform and flatters the egos of creators who they are trying to onboard to the platform.

You can more accurately describe Views on twitter as Impressions, which are generally a highly suspect number used historically in paid media / outdoor promotion (billboards etc) when there is no good way to actually define or track the actual number of people who see something.

The old joke in brand advertising is “I know I waste 50% of my budget, I just don’t know which 50%.”

Focusing media spend towards optimising / hitting targets for social platforms whose entire business model is founded on attracting, mediating and then monetising the business between creators and advertisers is a recipe for flushing money down the drain.

In reality it doesn’t matter what CPMs or views or subscriber counts are - I only used this post to raise a deeper point, which is that they are false gods, entirely independent from the metrics that do matter if actual adoption is what you want.

Of course if you want to purely optimise for token price, then you do not need to build any technology, you just need a meme.