Basic Attention Token: A New Frontier For Digital Advertising?

disrupt content marketing blockchain companies

Advertising Is Broken.

Content marketers like myself are all too familiar with how rapidly the space evolves — perhaps even desensitized to it by now. Those who aren’t living, eating and breathing digital advertising get left behind when it comes to adapting to Google’s ever-changing product algorithms, and even for us – it’s a daily challenge.

High data charges, slow page loads, and up to 21% less battery life. Does it really have to be this way?

You’d have to put a gun to my head to tell you that these algorithms and ad platforms aren’t without their flaws — plagiarism is rampant, cases of privacy breach are at an all-time-high, and the amount of irrelevant ad content I receive daily makes my eyeballs bleed.

If then, we are held at the mercy of this algorithmic advertising oligopoly, how can we as advertisers free ourselves from these shackles and better reach our target audiences without ever needing to breach our users constitutional rights?

Content marketing is a powerful tool, but because of plagiarism, fake news, clickbait, and other low-quality content, consumers are finding it harder than ever to trust what businesses are putting out there – Caleb Ulku (Ulku Logistics)

Is Such A Utopia Even Possible?

With Blockchain at the cutting-edge of all things digital technology, perhaps our answers lie there.

Granted, the notion of decentralization always offers up more questions than answers due to the nature of its infancy, but it is worth pondering how the very concept of distributed ledger technology and blockchain could change the face of content marketing as we know it.

Fortunately, there are already a few companies who have provided us with a glimpse of their vision of a decentralized content marketing future.

In this article, I deep-dive into the inner-workings of 1 blockchain company who is trying to shake up the future of digital advertising.

Let’s discuss: Basic Attention Token.

Basic Attention Token are a blockchain-based company that aims to improve the efficacy of digital advertising, “by creating a new token that can be exchanged between publishers, advertisers, and users”. These tokens are used as currency to purchase usage rights to a variety of advertising services on their very own Brave browser platform (much like Google Chrome/Safari/Firefox but with a few game-changing features — more on that in a bit).

The Problems

  • The online advertising marketplace has become overrun by “middlemen”
  • Users face extraordinarily high amounts of malvertisements and privacy violations
  • Mobile advertising carries with it problems of high data charges, slow page loads, and up to 21% less battery life. Ad-blocking software has consequently become the norm among the general public
  • Publishers face falling revenue
  • Advertiser ability to assess transparent effectiveness is diminished.

The Solutions

  • Build a decentralized , transparent digital ad exchange built on the Ethereum Blockchain
  • The Brave browser – a fast, open-source, privacy-focused browser that not only blocks third-party ads and cookie trackers, but also builds in a ledger-system that measures user attention to reward deserving publishers
  • The BAT token – a digital token which serves as the currency for the Brave browser. It compensates the browser user for watching ads all while simultaneously protecting the user’s privacy rights. Instead of being force-fed ads, users opt-in to view the ads that are relevant to them, while getting rewarded for doing so. The theory here is to achieve better conversion rates for marketers, which in turn means higher revenue for publishers.
  • BAT connects advertisers, publishers and users (ad viewers) while removing any chance of wastage that may occur due to fraud, privacy violations and malvertising.

The Brave Browser in action – credit to Serge Ramelli for the photo.

The Robin Hood of Advertising?

Basic Attention Token’s vision addresses a fair  number of tactile problems that the content marketing sphere faces, both from a user-experience and publisher perspective.

This altruistic gameplan for the future of content marketing offers a hopeful insight into what could be an almost ‘advertising utopia’ of sorts. I mean, just imagine – a world where we get paid to view ads? And advertisers make more money? Personally, I am a fan of this redistribution of control and governance between advertiser and consumer.

We see BAT and associated technologies as a future part of web standards, solving the important problem of monetizing publisher content while protecting user privacy. – Brave Team

The Brave browser is definitely intuitive, and holds up to its promises of being fast and privacy-focused. Developed by the co-founder of the Mozilla project and creator of JavaScript, Brendan Eich, it’s no surprise that they were quick to iron out many of its flaws upon initial release. Despite version 0.7 receiving some backlash, by the end of 2017 TechWorld singled out Brave as “one of the best secure browsers available today”, with CNET also praising them for their high standards of user privacy.


As with all disruptive projects, their successes will undoubtedly be measured by its adoption rate, i.e. how many users it can manage to win over from the stubborn hordes of loyal Chrome/Firefox/Safari users.

So, what do the stats say?

As of Dec 31st 2017, there were over 1 million active users, comprising of 31% desktop and 69% mobile. Majority of these users reside in the U.S. and EU. As for publishers and partners, over 2,500 websites were verified in 2017 alone, bringing the overall number of Brave Publishers to a grand total of over 4,000. Over 1,400 YouTube creators registered after they announced that they could directly receive BAT tokens.

Other noteworthy feats include their partnership with DuckDuckGo for private browsing, and UpHold to faciliate Brave Payments. You can read their full milestone achievements list for 2017 here.

My Two Sats…

If Basic Attention Token continues to adopt users at this rate, I personally believe that they have a decent shot of solidifying themselves as a ‘force majeure’ in the content marketing space.

Google and Facebook grew into the giants they are today, by effectively selling ad space to anyone with a product/service to sell. While revolutionary for its time, it is evident that this model is unsustainable in its current form. Then the question is, how will the big players adapt in order to not be cut out of the decentralized pie?

With BAT’s dual-pronged strategy that addresses both the liberties of users and the efficacy of advertising spend, it will be interesting to see how much of an impact the project will have on the way we produce and consume advertising going forward.

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