Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are having a huge impact on all aspects of modern life, from finance to medicine to data privacy, and the online marketing industry is no exception. There have been various attempts to develop tokens that look to disrupt the advertising industry over recent years, with mixed results, but one is worth looking at in more detail: Basic Attention Token (BAT).
BAT is an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency that uses blockchain technology to remove the risk of fraud. It aims to transform the digital marketing industry by creating advertising which is secure, decentralised and delivers benefits to both sides of the advertising divide. An admirable goal, but how does this work in practice?
It involves the Brave Browser, a web browser developed by the same team as the token that connects everyone in the advertising chain – publisher, advertiser and consumer. In this system, the publisher receives higher revenue, costs are reduced for the advertiser and the consumer benefits from more relevant ads and improved privacy, plus a share of the tokens spent by the advertiser.
The Brave Browser is focused on privacy, automatically blocking unwanted ads and trackers, but more importantly uses feedback processes to make sure the user only sees adverts for products they’re likely to buy, and displaying them in a more unobtrusive manner compared to traditional online ads. All data recorded is encrypted and restricted to the device in question, removing the privacy risks found on browsers which reply on the cloud, such as Chrome and Firefox.
Brave Ads is another notable feature. This can be turned on by the user resulting in them being paid in BAT for the time they spend viewing advertising on the browser. And by turning on the Brave Rewards feature, this automatically divides up the monthly BAT earned and sends it to the sites the user visits the most. The user can also tip creators directly by clicking the built-in tip button in the URL bar on major sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Reddit.
In theory, these features sound ideal for everyone involved in digital advertising. The consumer is paid to view ads while publishers and creators receive more revenue, and the advertiser gains access to a much more focused user base, which should lead to increased sales.
However, this relies on a significant number of people making the switch to the Brave Browser away from the market leaders Firefox, Chrome and Edge. The BAT website states that Brave has 30m monthly active users, with 1m verified creators accepting BAT. Impressive numbers but there’s a long way to go before it can be seen as truly revolutionising the world of online advertising.
On the positive side, interest has been high since BAT’s initial coin offering in June 2017, which saw $35m raised in less than a minute. The price reached an all-time high early in 2021 before falling in May, although it remains healthy compared to the previous few years. Of course, as Dogecoin has shown, the price of a cryptocurrency token isn’t necessarily related to its utility but BAT certainly stands out as a digital advertising token with strong fundamentals and the one with the most potential to shake up the online marketing industry.