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Basic Attention Token

Basic Attention Token is a currency for digital advertising.

Digital advertising and digital marketing, in general, have several fundamental problems that are almost impossible to solve with the current infrastructure. There are three groups of users, and each one of them has its own goals that it struggles to achieve.

First, there are users. They consume content on the Internet by visiting various web pages on different websites. The content is often accompanied by an advertisement. In modern times, digital advertisements look like necessary evil, something that users don’t like yet it’s often the only source of income for publishers. Ads are often irrelevant to users. For example, they might promote something that user already bought. Ads account for a large part of the website’s size and are the cause of the slow page loading. Moreover, the increased size of the web pages due to ads cost users money, as they require paying more for the data. Ads often bloat the page, distracting the user from the important content. Finally, ad networks are the source of data leaks and data selling, and many users feel that they lost control of their personal information. As a result, more and more users install “ad-blockers”, browser add-ons that block digital advertisements entirely.

Second, there are publishers. They host websites and create content for users. The main problem of digital advertising for publishers is declining revenue from ads. It comes from two reasons: the growth of “ad-blockers” and advertisers inefficiency. As noted above, more and more frustrated users prefer to block ads. Ad-blockers censor all ads, whether they are relevant to the user or not. On the other side, advertisers are represented by a lot of middlemen who take large cuts from the ad revenue and give only a small part of it to publishers.

Third, there are advertisers. They are faced with bot networks and market centralization. Bot networks are the large amounts of computers that emulate the behavior of users. They steal part of the revenue by pretending that they have a website with lots of users. Centralization is also a problem. Google and Facebook control more than 70% of the market, and their market share continues to grow.

BAT team comes with a decentralized solution. Users browse websites as usual but are rewarded with tokens when they see ads. Publishers are also rewarded when the users visit their site. Publishers take most of the profits, and they may also receive donations from users.

It’s important to define the metrics that are important when rewarding users and publishers for the attention. BAT team came up with Basic Attention Metrics. It is based on measuring user’s attention on content and ads. Only the active browser tab is counted. Attention to the ads is calculated as the total attention multiplied by the ratio between ad size and total page size.

To ensure the maximum relevance of ads, the data about the user is collected via the browser. On-device machine learning uses this data to build the user model. User data is encrypted and never leaves the devices. Advertisers can target their marketing campaigns, but they never know who will see a particular ad.

Basic Attention Token (BAT) is a native token of the network. It is an ERC20 token, and the network runs on Ethereum.

Advertisers purchase BAT to run their campaigns. This BAT is then distributed to users that see their ads and publishers that host the ads on their websites.

Users will have several options to spend their BAT. First, they can reward favorite publishers by donating tokens to them. Second, they can run their own marketing campaigns, for example, to promote their small business. Publishers can increase their revenue by introducing other ways to spend tokens. Possible options include subscriptions and paywalls, access to the HQ video and audio content, pay-to-comment, selling datasets, and more.

The first component of the network is Brave. Brave is a fast, open source, privacy-focused browser that blocks third-party ads and trackers. It measures user attention to reward publishers accordingly. Brave is an already working product with millions of active users.

Another part of the network is ledger system, or Brave Micropayments Ledger. It is an open source Zero Knowledge Proof scheme deployed to allow Brave users to make anonymous donations to publishers using Bitcoin as the medium of exchange. The Brave Ledger system uses the ANONIZE algorithm to protect user privacy.

Timeline

  • January 20, 2016: Introduction of the Brave browser. brave.com
  • September 1, 2016: Introduction of Brave Payments. brave.com
  • September 30, 2016: Initial commit on Github. github.com
  • March 23, 2017: Announcement of Basic Attention Token and the blockchain-based platform. medium.com
  • May 31, 2017: Basic Attention Token crowdsale. medium.com
  • October 12, 2017: BAT Mercury update launch. The update integrated BAT into Brave Payments. medium.com
  • December 14, 2017: Partnership between Brave and DuckDuckGo. medium.com
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