Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the internet relies on advertising.
Revenue collected from selling ad space on websites can pay for both staff and content. Without an effective advertising model, many online businesses would struggle to survive.
However, online advertising has more in common with the Wild West than Mad Men. An overly complicated supply chain means advertisers pay substantial sums for very little return.
Hackers meanwhile, set up fake websites to collect revenue for ads no one actually sees, and worst of all, users are endlessly spammed as they travel across the web.
Could Basic Attention Token help the advertiser, the publisher and the user? We’re about to find out.
What is BAT?
BAT is a utility token, designed initially as part of a whole new digital advertising platform known as Brave. At its heart is a web-browserthat blocks adverts and keeps personal data and people’s identities, protected. While it keeps people’s identity secure, however, BAT also commodifies users’ attention. The distributed ledger its built on can collect accurate data on where the adverts are going and just how effective they are. Armed with this information, advertisers can create better marketing campaigns and budget better. The network also uses a token, the BAT, that can be used to pay publishers for their ad space and even to compensate users for watching or clicking on their adverts.
Who created BAT?
BAT was created by the Brave browser project. With headquarters in San Francisco, the senior team are alumni from established tech companies, like Microsoft and Intel.
Did you know?
A brief history.
- January 2016 - The Brave browser launches.
- September 2016 - Brave introduces an anonymous payments feature for users to compensate publishers.
- March 2017 - Brave unveils the Basic Attention Token.
- May 2017 - BAT public sale begins. November 2017 - Brave expands onto YouTube, offering the same digital advertising model for the platform’s channels.
- December 2017 - Brave browser reaches more than a million active monthly users
What’s so special about it?
- Incentive - Users are directly rewarded with BAT for watching or listening to advertisements. Better browser experience - Rather than a high-volume of irrelevant ads, users can have a smaller selection of targeted ads. Ads take up bandwidth, so the fewer there are on a page, the faster it loads.
- Privacy - User data is not collected without permission on the Brave Browser. BAT uses the ANONIZE algorithm that withholds confidential information from the public eye. This means advertisers can create tailored ads, but can’t use Brave to find out users’ personal data. Brave raised $36m in its BAT public sale that lasted less than 30 seconds. Five buyers managed to purchase half of the tokens sold.
How is BAT produced?
Basic Attention Tokens were pre-mined prior to the token sale in 2017. The total supply is capped at 1.5 billion tokens. One billion were sold during the ICO, with a further 500 million BAT held in reserve for user growth and the development of the platform.
How does BAT work?
Most digital adverts are seen directly from the internet. This is different with Brave. Online ads are blocked and databases full of advertisements are instead downloaded onto users’ devices. The BAT ledger system is based on the Ethereum blockchain. It anonymously records internet history to build up a picture of what the user’s interests are. It also determines ads with the most user engagement. This is calculated by how long users watch or listen to the adverts, as well as how much of the screen the ad took up. Using internet history and attention data, the Brave browser chooses adverts from the database that users are most likely to engage with. These are then shown on websites visited by the user.
What can you do with BAT?
The vast majority of tokens will be used to reward publishers for their ad space. Advertisers can pay the publishers in BAT, with the amount determined by the website’s level of user engagement. Users will also be compensated with BAT tokens. These can be exchanged for services on the platform as well as to purchase premium content. Brave has suggested that this might include access to higher-quality films or music.
The success of the Basic Attention Token depends on whether digital advertising, as an industry, decides to adopt this new model. The signs, so far, look promising. Brave began working with YouTube at the tail-end of last year. Many artists who don’t have enough views to get paid by YouTube itself, use the ledger so that they receive some form of revenue for their work. However, the platform has faced some criticism by industry players. Some worry Brave would have too much control over digital advertising. Critics say it could alter how much the different parties get paid, with some arguing it pays far too much to publishers compared to existing models. However, it’s still at the prototype stage. Although BAT can be bought and sold on exchanges, there’s still no way for users to actually spend their tokens, creating a strange, almost closed ecosystem. As the platform develops, BAT will need to develop a real-world utility, which will then give the tokens some sort of value.