Polkadot's Astonishing Marketing Spending

On June 29, Polkadot community members released the Polkadot Treasury’s operational report for the first half of 2024. The report revealed that the Polkadot Treasury spent a total of $87 million. At the current spending rate, these reserves will only last another two years.
To the community’s surprise, Polkadot spent $37 million solely on promotions, which made up the majority of the treasury’s expenditures. The advertising costs included $21 million for sponsorships, $10 million for marketing and PR companies, $4 million for digital advertising, and $790,000 for event expenses, which included $450,000 for event spending, $390,000 for business development, and $320,000 for media production.

(Polkadot Treasury Report)

The Disaster of KOL Promotion: Fake Followers, Content Inflation, Bot Accounts

According to statistics from the Polkadot Market Bounty website, KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) accounted for a large portion of Polkadot’s promotional activities, exceeding half of the total budget. From the content KPI data, these KOL activities appeared successful, with total content views exceeding 15 million, total likes over 570,000, and over 60,000 comments.
In the first quarter, Polkadot’s KOL promotional activities included four “Evox promotions” targeting North America and three “Lunar promotions” targeting Europe, with each event’s KOL budget averaging around $300,000 for about 30 days. The Evox events included 30 to 40 KOLs, while the Lunar events had significantly fewer, around 15 KOLs. There was also a community account Dot Army with a single budget of $15,000.

After investigating the quality of these content promotions, it was found that many so-called “Content Creators” were engaging in deceptive practices. Many KOLs inflated follower numbers, promotion content, and responses, resulting in excessively high costs.

For example, a KOL with the handle @DeFiExpertise had only 25 followers on X but over 70,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel, with only about 10 videos posted, indicating that the channel was likely created during the Evox campaign period.

Another KOL, @CriptoMindYT, had 12,000 followers, but most were bot accounts. This account mostly posted custom content related to Polkadot, with tweets getting only about 200 views.

Additionally, KOLs with handles like @SharkyCoins and @ApeCryptos had almost identical operating styles, raising suspicions of being managed by the same bot account studio. Similar issues were found with @MaxGanes, which posted over 100,000 tweets, including many AI-generated ones.

Some KOLs would promote 20-50 items in a single tweet, while others, like @DegenHardy and @TheCrypomist, had already deactivated their accounts or changed names, like @CryptoEmily.

DOT Army: An Interesting Case

The DOT Army budget included an “official community account” and about 30 KOL service packages, costing $15,000 monthly. Despite having high engagement tweets, such as the June 30 post about “DOT ETF” with 110,000 views, the account had only about 200 followers. These high-engagement tweets were primarily retweeted by other KOLs.

YouTube Channel Promotion Issues

Polkadot’s KOL promotion also heavily targeted YouTube, but many channels’ audience profiles did not match crypto users. For instance, the MilkRoad channel, with content primarily about general investments, had only a few hundred views per video, making Polkadot and DOT token promotion awkwardly placed. In May, Polkadot targeted a Marvel Snap gaming channel, described in the budget as “high-net-worth audience targeting.”

Despite ineffective KOL promotions, Polkadot governance and foundations continued increasing the KOL budget, reaching up to $600,000 for a single campaign from May to June.

Limited Promotion in Asia

Most of Polkadot’s promotional budget targeted the US and Europe, with little focus on the Asian market. In September, PolkaWorld, the Chinese community for Polkadot, paused operations after its funding proposal was rejected by the official governance. PolkaWorld claimed the new treasury management mechanism led to many contributors and organizations leaving the Polkadot ecosystem.

PR and Media Spending

Polkadot’s media spending was also high, including $138,000 to The Block for research reports, sponsored articles, and a single board maintenance. Other crypto media like Decrypt, Defiant, and Cryptoslate were bundled into PR services by the Community Project governance entity, charging 10% management fees, with each PR campaign costing around $150,000.

Polkadot also paid for logo displays on Coingecko and Coinmarketcap, with Coingecko’s six-month exclusive logo display costing $50,000, and Coinmarketcap’s two-year display costing $480,000.

Sponsorships and Unconventional Promotions

Polkadot also spent $50,000 sponsoring the Vietnam Web3 event, while Ethereum’s platinum sponsorship at EDCON cost the same but included a chance to meet Vitalik in a VIP room. Polkadot’s budget frequently included a “price difference supplement” due to DOT being the payment currency, which often amounted to $100,000.

KOL Promotion Practices

Polkadot’s KOL promotion practices often involved questionable tactics, with high costs and limited effectiveness. There were concerns about potential hidden agreements between KOLs and foundation members, resulting in excessive spending. However, community governance’s transparency could make such deals difficult.

Many projects choose to focus on building a solid community and organic reach instead of relying heavily on KOL promotions. This approach can yield better results and avoid inflated costs.

By understanding the detailed spending and promotional strategies of Polkadot, we can see the complexities and challenges involved in effectively managing a large-scale promotional budget in the crypto space.


The thing is a lot of the useless marketing proposals were passed due to a single 30M DOT voter.

Also what is epic is for months I have been telling everyone that we need to support projects onboarding into the ecosystem, rather then pushing marketing when we haven’t even solved the UX issues. Maybe people will have a wake up call now!

The thing is we push away every new project wanting to build on Polkadot. I Talked this week with 3 larger projects, 1 has a proposal and the other 2 I was trying to get to make a proposal and the sentiment from projects not even in Polkadot is that it is pointless making proposals as treasury is just a club used by those in Polkadot as a slush fund to pass any project part of the club without any care and scrutinize any new project to the point of over and beyond, many complaining about zero communication or care from voters in wanting to work with projects. Basically all we are doing is pushing away every new project proposal and then we wonder why very few projects want to build on Polkadot or why marketing of 37 million had zero effect!

Literally we could of spent the 37 million on onboarding platforms from other ecosystems that would of have a much more bigger impact short and long term as marketing then any paid marketing. Without the actual infrastructure and projects what are people going to use?

Our wallets barely work with Talisman crashing, SubWallet nodes don’t connect half the time and only wallet working is Nova Wallet, but the overall UX of these wallets is barely acceptable. We have literally near to no DeFi projects building on Polkadot or interest from anyone wanting to build due to this entire issue of pass anything in the ecosystem already and drive away any new project wanting to build.


It seems you should be a curator for these proposals. Payment should only be made to marketing efforts on proof of their effectiveness.


Lots of promotion by corporate adoption anyway and it seems DOT has benefited from more YT promo, but maybe is time to refocus the funds to developers, apps and their communities now?