The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is a token designed to reinvent digital advertising using blockchain technology. Built on the Ethereum platform by the developers behind the Brave web browser, BAT protects privacy while serving as a means to more accurately value users attention: both for advertisers looking for targeted audiences and publishers looking for content subscribers.
Brave’s mission has always been about a safer, faster, and improved browsing experience. Here’s why BAT has revolutionized online advertising, alongside a browser that has set a new standard for ad blocking and eliminating tracker software.
The Industry of Digital Advertising
Throughout history, advertising has been used as a powerful mechanism to capture people’s attention. While early forms of advertising date as far back as ancient China, mass advertising as we know it began in the 19th century with the growing popularity of newspapers and magazines.
For nearly two hundred years, the symbiotic ecosystem of publishers, advertisers, and consumers remained relatively stable and straightforward. Even with the invention of radio and television, the same basic relationship between these parties maintained its dominance until the end of the 20th century.
The rise of the Internet fundamentally changed the entire advertising ecosystem. The Internet gave advertisers and publishers previously unimaginable amounts of information about their audience, leading to radical improvements in the efficiency of attention marketplace.
Unfortunately, the digital advertising ecosystem has become a victim of its own complexity and opacity. Intermediaries are taking an ever larger piece of the revenue pie, while fraud has multiplied and invasive trackers have made the web a less user-friendly space.
These developments are damaging to advertisers, publishers, and users. Both digital marketing teams and publishers must bow down before the obscure whims of these intermediaries. Publishers are going bankrupt while Google and Facebook take 73% of all ad dollars.
Advertisers aren’t receiving accurate, precise information on the make-up of their audience, while over 600 million phones and desktops run ad blockers, with the number growing daily. In addition, bots committed $7.2 billion in fraud last year, which hurts both publishers and advertisers.
Consumers meanwhile suffer from a host of growing problems, including:
- Privacy violations
- Mobile data and battery life being sucked up by ads and trackers
- Malware infestations (up to 132% growth annually)
The time is ripe for a revamp of the ecosystem to improve respect of user privacy and the value of published content. That’s what Brave set out to do while developing BAT.
BAT Offers a Solution
User attention is invaluable to advertisers, but the current system has mispriced attention and abused users, publishers, and advertisers alike. With Basic Attention Tokens, all that changes.
BAT facilitates monetization between users, publishers, and advertisers. When a user interacts with an ad, they are paid in BAT. Publishers who post popular, high-quality content that successfully drives users to interact with ads are also rewarded with BAT (in addition to a conventional compensatory structure). Youtubers, especially, benefit as their audiences can view videos ad-free and reward creators with BAT.
The token can also be used to obtain a variety of advertising and attention-based services on the Brave browser. Brave and the BAT work together to preserve user privacy while giving advertisers more precise targeting capabilities as well as an exact understanding of their impact.
How BAT Addresses Attention Economy Dysfunctions
BAT addresses three key dysfunctional elements of the attention economy as it’s currently organized, and is able to do so on the Brave browser.
- Tracking/Privacy – User tracking on the internet is a heavily-debated topic. Nearly everyone has noticed that they see ads tailored to subjects they’ve searched for on Google, content they’ve liked on social media, and even their email and private communications on social networks. For some, this creates an uneasy feeling. Many users have even taken steps to fight back against surveillance, with concern to their privacy. The Brave web browser was designed with the intent of eliminating many trackers that slow down data speeds and negatively impact users’ experience. BAT, on the other hand, creates a new means of exchange and compensation. It functions as a vector for micropayments so that users are paid for their attention to sponsored content. Alternatively, they can make micropayments in BAT to avoid having to deal with annoying ads while still accessing high quality content online.
- Ad blockers – Hundreds of millions of users have installed ad blockers on their browsers, with more joining their ranks each day. Some ad blockers disrupt tracking and surveillance, while others simply remove display ads and pop-ups from the user’s experience. Many ad blockers do both. Ad blockers present an existential problem for the revenue structure of much of the internet, which is based on tracking and advertisements. BAT offers a way out for publishers and advertisers. Pay people for their attention and get paid for your content if you forgo ads. Some YouTube-based creators are already accepting BAT micropayments as an alternative to ads.
- Ad Blocker Detectors – If you’ve ever installed an ad blocker, you’ve most likely visited websites that took notice. Publishers, advertisers and others have set up ad blocker detection apps that ask users to stop using ad blockers and even lock content behind gates until ad blockers are turned off.An arms race between users, publishers, and advertisers could be averted if a more efficient marketplace could be established. BAT is the means of exchange that could facilitate this marketplace.
A New Blockchain-Based Digital Advertising Market
BAT and the Brave browser use Ethereum to establish confirmations of actual user attention that advertisers can count on. Cryptographically-verified smart contracts, stored in the blockchain, allow advertisers to verify their target audience without impinging on user privacy.
Once the digital advertising market shifts toward BAT, the value of the tokens will potentially appreciate rapidly. Purchasing BAT could give individuals and organizations access to the ground floor of a major shift in how information is shared and consumed over the Internet.
BAT in Action
Brave has put BAT into action by empowering users and creators to use the cryptocurrency easily to facilitate micropayments. The Brave browser is now logging viewing time for creators who make content viewed on Brave.
This allows BAT micropayments to flow directly into the wallets of YouTube creators. YouTube stars are extremely popular with fans, and tend to operate “off the grid” of official culture. There has been discord in the creator community due to Google’s revenue sharing policy changes that some characterize as unfair.
BAT gives these creators a new revenue stream, and a way to operate outside the dominant ad-based model. The incredible reach and influence of YouTube stars could also lead to a wider adoption of BAT in the future.
Without a doubt, innovations like BAT will predict the real potential for cryptocurrency, including its ability to solve problems that no other type of currency can tackle.
This does not constitute investment advice. Please consult your financial professional if you have questions about investing in cryptocurrency.