You’ve probably heard of GDPR (Global Data Protection Regulation) by now. If not, it’s the recent regulation that caused many sites you frequent to prompt you with updated terms and privacy policies - namely what data of yours they monitor and what they can do with it. You’ve also no doubt heard of Cambridge Analytica, whose Facebook data breach was so large scale it's almost certain to have had an impact on the US Presidential election.
And while multinationals and big tech focus on loopholes in the system to continue mining user data, one startup – with a crypto twist – is taking a novel approach to improving the ecosystem of not just data and user privacy, but digital advertising at large.
Today we’ll be diving into this startup, the Brave web browser, and how its privacy focus with use of BAT (Basic Attention Tokens) to combat digital advertising fraud has helped it reach over 2 million active users. With their recent integration of Tor and increasing popularity, it's an ambitious project that crypto traders and anyone concerned with online privacy should pay attention to.
The Brave Browser
Consumers in the digital age seem almost numb to the trackers that follow their browsing habits, cookies which build online profiles, and the resulting assault of targeted ads. Beyond the clutter and potential privacy invasions involved in this process, the bandwidth used by this basket of tools alone can take up almost 50% of page load times. Unfortunately as a result, users are often without their knowledge paying a premium (i.e. their data and time) for a worse user experience.
Brave uses a set of shields to automatically block trackers, spam advertisements and other privacy infringing software. Beyond privacy, Brave claims that users can expect load times up to 2X faster on desktop and 7X faster on mobile with the use of their browser. In line with their mission, they’ve partnered with privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo, and more recently on June 28th launched the Private Tab with Tor. While still in beta, this already impressive integration of the Tor network allows users to further protect their privacy without ever leaving the Brave browser.
While all these initiatives have been helping Brave gain steam, it could be their novel approach to monetization via BAT that could truly change the digital advertising ecosystem that has to date relied on privacy invasions. So what exactly is a Basic Attention Token?
Basic Attention Tokens (BAT)
Online advertising has evolved from a simple and transparent dynamic into a complicated, opaque and inefficient model. To the demise of everyday users, the beneficiaries of this increased complication are generally large internet and data companies such as Google and Facebook who collectively take in up to 73% of all digital advertising dollars.
Brave’s intention, with its ad-blocking prowess, was to become an incubator for a new type of blockchain-based digital advertising. Since they believed remuneration should be based on the ability to garner user attention, an ERC20 Ethereum based utility token named BAT was created to do just that.
The relationship between the Brave browser and BAT is seamless. It protects privacy while still allowing for monetization. Brave can both anonymously and privately monitor a user’s attention as they browse through the web, click on links, and linger on text or imagery. As a result, when a user opts-in to view ads, their sophisticated software is able to deliver relevant and timely ad content. In turn, publishers receive BATs when these ads are viewed and users receive BATs for the attention they give.
Publishers naturally receive the lion's share of this token distribution. However under this remuneration system, users may further reward their favorite websites and pay for premium content on the Brave browser with the tokens they have earned, giving users more control over what they see.
While BAT was created specifically for the Brave browser, third party developers could apply it to systems beyond browsing and potentially further overall adoption. While it’s hard to say what the price impact of this growth will be on BAT for now, the future seems to look bright for Brave. And with these types of innovative blockchain solutions, the future of online advertising looks even brighter.
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