There are a few occasions where you cannot help but observe what your colleagues or fellow commuters are looking at on their smartphone. It’s also a great indication of current trends, changing habits, and passing fads such as Pokémon Go. But recently, I have noticed that more and more people are increasingly using a new browser called Brave that is on a mission to transform the entire online ecosystem.
However, things get really interesting when you add Brave’s Basic Attention Token (BAT) to the mix. Essentially, BAT is the new token that could transform the entire digital advertising industry. It pays publishers for their content and rewards users for their attention while providing advertisers with more in return for their ads.
In the post-Cambridge Analytica world, there is an increased awareness around privacy and misuse of our personal data. There is also the reality that online ads slow down websites, track our behavior, obstruct the content we try to consume, and even deliver malware. There is a strong argument that the current system is broken and needs to be retired to our internet past along with Geocities and AOL.
Predictably, traditional platforms such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and other members of the Newspaper Association of America reacted with legal threats. But, in a dramatic U-turn, the Dow Jones Media Group recently revealed that it was experimenting with the blockchain platform and embracing the new Brave browser that aims to reward readers for engaging with content.
Who owns your attention? Who owns your web browsing experience? Who gets paid? If not you, then you’re ’product.’ It’s time to get paid.” – Brendan Eich
We increasingly distrust online services that remain free by sharing our personal details with advertisers. Could the BAT that hands back the power to the users for them to decide who to reward with their attention be the first cryptocurrency to achieve mainstream adoption?
In a digital world where we all consume and create content across a myriad of platforms, how would the Brave browser alter your online experience?
What’s in it for me?
The Brave browser blocks ads and trackers by defaut, so you can browse the web faster and more safely, and it will tell you how much time you have saved compared against other browsers. By not downloading ads and trackers, the company advised that on average Brave saves 5 seconds of load time per page on a smartphone connection, not to mention savings in data consumption.
Over on desktop PCs and laptops, the Brave browser reduces your chances of being infected by malware, ransomware, spyware, etc. Have you ever noticed how after looking at an item online, it seems ads for the product will follow on every website you visit for the next week? That’s because popular sites host as many as 70 trackers. Brave blocks the software that follows you around.
Widespread adoption of a browser that blocks tracks would have a huge impact on the already struggling digital marketing industry. Are we witnessing the introduction of a new system where empowered customers decide the fate of companies with their attention spans?
Trials are beginning this week to offer users the choice of viewing ads to earn BATs. These will come directly from advertisers, and Brave intends to share as much as 70% of the profits with the end users on the platform. Although viewing ads for virtual currency is unlikely to make you rich, there is also an option of rewarding your favorite content creators with your BATs. Essentially, you decide if you watch ads and who you reward.
Gary Vaynerchuk famously said that attention is the new real estate. Follower counts, reach, and click-through rates are ultimately meaningless if the content doesn’t grab your attention and provide value. Could the Brave browser convince marketers to change their ways? It’s too early to make those kind of predictions, but there does seem to be a desire for change from all parties.
Trends and buzzwords around blockchain and cryptocurrencies have been guilty of confusing and even alienating mainstream audiences. However, real-world use cases are beginning to emerge, and this is crucial to increase adoption of technologies that will transform the digital landscape.
Despite technology transforming almost every aspect of our life, web browsers have changed very little in the last five years. In a new digital age where attention is the new currency and online privacy is our biggest concern, maybe Brave has lived up its name by doing something radically different with your boring old browser.
Only time will tell if users will embrace the concept of a new browser that protects users and provides a digital currency-based reward system for content creators. But the next time you look over someone’s shoulder and see them using a different browser, you will know why.
If you are a creator interested in monetizing your content or would just like to test the new Brave Browser, you can do so by clicking this download link. By doing so, you will also be supporting this tech blog writer in the process. Does this sound better than the current ecosystem?
Please share your experiences and insights below or by by contacting me directly. I am genuinely interested in your thoughts. on the future of this project.