Facebook and other social media platforms earn money from selling your attention to advertisers; and they earn more the more time you spend on their platform. Consequently, content that engage users in time consuming emotionality, is favored. Let us take a look at one project that tries to amend this situation by paying users directly for their attention by employing blockchain technology – the Brave browser.
The average mobile browser spends as much as $23 a month in data, to simply download ads and trackers.
Via the Basic Attention Token (BAT), the Brave browser project targets all users of the internet, and seeks to create a transparent and efficient Blockchain-based digital advertising market. Hence, the customers of the Brave browser are all users, content providers, and advertisers on the internet. By reducing middlemen transactions and fraud in the ecosystem of digital advertising, the Brave project allows for reduction in the costs associated with monetization of users’ attention. The value of this attention is captured in the Basic Attention Token (BAT). BAT is a token that can be exchanged between publishers, advertisers, and users. The distribution of BAT allows for online content producers/providers to be rewarded directly from the user. It also allows for internet surfers to be paid in BAT to accept ads. As the Brave browser records where the user spends time, it can provide advertisers detailed data on their spending. The Brave Ledger has privacy and deterministic user anonymity at core, allowing full transparency to be achieved while user privacy is maintained. The Brave browser also targets mobile users, as internet pages loads up to eight times faster on mobile devices compared to other browsers. Hence, the Brave browser makes mobile devices more energy efficient, and reduces data charges for the user, compared with other browsers.
The idea of paying users for their time is compelling, and when combined with the real benefits of the Brave browser being privacy-focused, fast and secure, this could be a very powerful internet service in the near future.
The Brave browser employs an attention-based economics based on blockchain technology. The project consists of the Brave browser and the Basic Attention Token (BAT). The Brave Browser is a fast, open source, privacy-focused browser that blocks malvertisements and trackers. The browser contains a ledger system that anonymously captures user attention to accurately reward publishers. BAT is a new unit of exchange between publishers, advertisers and users. BAT is built on the Ethereum blockchain, making it quite secure. The trilemma in blockchain technology is how one can best attain a blockchain that is secure, scalable and decentralized at the same time (so far this has proven impossible). Building the Brave ecosystem with a separate browser, a token to monetize attention, and a blockchain system allowing for transparency and privacy simultaneously, makes this blockchain very scalable and quick. How decentralized and secure this blockchain can be will depend on the larger development of Ethereum, which currently faces challenges in its ability to scale.
The Brave team tries to fix a broken system for monetization of users’ attention on the internet, and report that the average mobile browser spends as much as $23 a month in data, to simply download ads and trackers. Much of Brave’s identity is captured in the statement that “digital advertising is overrun by middlemen, trackers and fraud”. As privacy invasions are presently required by advertisers in order to make sure the advertisement is actually viewed by a desired user, the Brave browser builds its core identity around being privacy-focused, fast, and secure. The Basic Attention Token draws attention to the radical improvement in being able to pay users for their attention, while at the same time paying the content producers more than in the current system. Hence, the Brave browser is a disruptive technology, seeking to challenge the current marketplace for digital advertising.
The major competition to this project seems to be other web browsers, such as Firefox and Google Chrome. The voice.com project, built on EOS, and the steemit blockchain behind the steemit.com platform, could be seen as blockchain competitors to the Brave browser. As both voice.com and steemit.com are websites, while the Brave browser is a web browser, these services differ vastly, even though both allow for many of the same possibilities, i.e., paying users for their attention, and providers for their content. If voice.com and/or steemit.com become major platforms on Web 3.0, then one could argue that this could bring even more attention to the Brave browser.