BAT (Basic Attention Token) is a blockchain-based digital advertising token based on Ethereum.

The mission of the BAT team is to fix the broken state of the current digital advertising space in which users are unknowingly tracked, publishers are having trouble monetizing content, and advertisers are constant victims to fraud.

What is BAT Aiming to Do?

They want to build a new system that will properly value user attention. It must reward and protect the user, while giving better conversion to advertisers and higher yield to publishers. They already have a working product with their Brave Browser.

Brave blocks ads and behavior-tracking software that’s common on the web by default, but it also lets you set up contributions to online publishers. Those contributions today are funded by Brave giveaways and whatever you choose to pay out of your own pocket, but eventually Brave expects to offer to to show ads that can supply funding, too. Those ads will be targeted by the browser itself to protect privacy but it won’t be enabled by default.

The advertising ecosystem started out as a marketplace where publishers, advertisers, and users were the main actors, but it is now overrun by “middleman” ad exchanges, complicated behavioral and cross-device user tracking, and opaque cross-party sharing through data management platforms.

This has translated into advertisers facing poor reporting and targeting, and publishers losing billions in revenue — while fraud has skyrocketed. Users have lost their privacy, face increasing malware risks, pay high charges to download trackers and ads, and suffer slow speeds. This has driven the adoption of ad blocking software, which is now on over 600 million mobile devices and desktops.

A few key numbers tell the story of today’s broken digital advertising landscape:

  • Over the last 12 years, publishers have lost approximately 66% of their revenue.
  • In 2016, ad fraud created by Internet bots cost advertisers $7.2 billion, up from $6.3 billion in 2015.
  • Up to 50% of the average user’s mobile data is used for ads and trackers, costing up to $23 a month.
  • Users face slow page loads and as much as 21% less battery life.
  • Google and Facebook, which together claim 73% of digital ad revenue and 99% of all growth, are exacerbating the crisis.

Presently, publishers are paid by monetizing attention via a complex network of intermediary players through ad networks and other such tools. With the onslaught of parasitic actors, publishers are getting very little revenue.

User Growth Pool

In January, BAT announced that they’d distribute $1 million worth of promotional BAT (Basic Attention Token) via user grants to Brave desktop browser wallets — ultimately to be contributed to website publishers and YouTube creators via Brave Payments.

On March 24th, they allocated that $1 million worth of BAT to a total of 52,829 website publishers and YouTube creators.

They’ll have more grants of this nature from their user growth pool in the future to help reward creators for their content and to improve everyone’s web experience, as BAT’s utility increases.

On March 22nd, BAT founder Brandon Eich was a speaker on a “Brave and BAT: How blockchain is revolutionizing digital advertising” conference in London.

Twitch Support

Brave Software, the team behind Basic Attention Token, announced at the beginning of March that the platform allows individual content creators on the popular site, Twitch.tv, to register as publishers with the platform. Publishers signed up for the service are able to earn money directly from their supporters, and the move is a part of the team’s ongoing strategy to grow the platform.

Batify Extension

Chrome and Firefox users who want a taste of the Brave browser can now get one with an extension called Batify that makes donations to websites, YouTubers and Twitch video game streamers.

The Batify extension for Chrome and for Firefox keeps tabs on what websites you visit and routes anonymous monthly payments to them depending on how many times you visit each and how much time you spend there. It relies on Brave Software’s system for publisher authentication, though, and the vast majority of publishers aren’t registered to receive payments.

Facebook Privacy Issues Are Bullish for BAT

The latest Facebook debacle with Cambridge Analytica should serve as a big cold wake up call for every user of Facebook and major Internet service that uses personal data for advertising.

Events like this open a door to smarter better more decentralized digital advertising business models. In these models,  consumers actually own their own data and control where and how it’s used.  Consumers are the ones who should be paid for their information – not Google or Facebook or any other middleman.

Tough Road Ahead

The road ahead is totally uphill – and a very steep climb at that – for these alternative blockchain based advertising models, as discussed in our research note.  Most advertisers and publishers will not be motivated to actively engage with this new business model until the privacy-enabling browser interfaces to them are used by a critical mass of consumers – at least 25-50 million of them to start.

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