The creators of the Basic Attention Token (BAT) take a dim view of the current state of digital advertising. They claim the industry is “overrun by middlemen, tricksters, and fraud.” Ad-blockers, bots, and tracking are ubiquitous. Google and Facebook have a duopoly on growth, and publisher revenues are shrinking.
The Basic Attention Token is their proposed solution. It’s a utility token that reward content based on how well it grabs user attention. The BAT’s home is Brave, a privacy-focused browser that blocks tracking ads and promotes ads from approved publishers.
On the BAT platform, advertisers target their ads to anonymous consumers who have opted into the scheme. Ad publishers and users get paid in BAT for viewing ads.
It seems like everybody wins. But is it too good to be true?
What is BAT?
BAT is a utility token based on the Ethereum blockchain platform. BAT is derived from user attention – focused engagement on ads. Engagement is anonymously measured via the Brave browser using a zero-knowledge protocol.
The BAT’s Initial Coin Offering in May 2017 raised $35 million in under 30 seconds.
To understand BAT, you need to understand its creators’ vision for a new digital advertising marketplace. BAT powers an internet economy devoid of the intrusive, resource-hungry advertisements we have grudgingly come to accept.
Earning and Spending BAT
Here’s how tokens move around the BAT economy:
- Advertisers purchase BAT with the opportunity to target their ads to Brave users
- Brave browser delivers ads to users together with locked BAT
- If the user views the ad, the token is unlocked and divided among the user and the publisher. Brave also takes a cut.
As a utility token, BAT is not a digital currency per se. BAT is designed for use only on the BAT platform. The tokens do not carry any rights outside of the BAT ecosystem.
You can trade BAT on over 120 platforms. However, BAT trading isn’t endorsed or promoted by the BAT development team. BAT hit an all-time high of USD 0.864 in January 2018. As of 9 July 2019, it’s trading at around USD 0.29.
Brave is a fast, privacy-focused browser based on Chromium. Many people use Brave without even knowing about BAT. It’s a great browser in itself, that integrates ad-blocking technology and other privacy features.
For example, Brave includes access to ultra-private browsing via Tor and a powerful ad-blocker:
Because it’s integrated into the browser, it won’t slow you down. In fact, by blocking resource-hungry ads, Brave out-performs other browsers.
Brave browser represents Stage 1 of the BAT project. Currently, Brave is the exclusive home of the BAT ecosystem of ad delivery, ad viewing, and BAT payments.
Brave received some favorable media coverage recently.
Brave browser integrates a BAT wallet, powered by Uphold. Users can add BAT to the wallet using several currencies, including BTC and ETH.
Brave CEO Brendan Eich characterizes Brave as BAT’s proving ground. Eventually, the token will spread beyond the confines of Brave.
Every website accrues BAT whenever it attracts the attention of an opted-in Brave user. Many sites have BAT that they don’t even know about. To receive a BAT payment, a publisher must register with the BAT platform.
Some noteworthy verified publishers include:
- The Guardian
- Washington Post
- The Reformer
Users can tip verified publishers from within Brave:
As major publishers become aware of the amount of BAT they’ve accrued from Brave, they will likely verify with the BAT platform to access it. This will help spread the word about BAT.
Future of BAT
Uses of BAT are currently pretty limited. But there’s a lot planned for the token.
At present, users can only spend BAT by tipping content creators and advertisers. However, there are plans to introduce other ways of using BAT.
In February 2019 Brave announced a collaboration with TAP Network. This will allow Brave users to spend BAT on hotel stays, restaurant vouchers, and gift cards. It’s also anticipated that users will be able to spend BAT on premium content behind a BAT-paywall.
The BAT project is ambitious. If it succeeds, it will transform the face of internet advertising. It will also provide yet another valuable use of blockchain technology by removing the middleman and connecting content-creators, advertisers and users directly.