While the internet has seriously undermined content monetization, blockchain technology is now providing a glimmer of hope for copyrighted material. This longed-for light at the end of the tunnel is not so much about monetizing the content itself, but about monetizing user attention right from the start. And the Brave browser holds the key.
New, innovative business models that could not exist without distributed ledger technology (DLT) are emerging. So are opportunities that would make no sense in the conventional centralized world.
Audiences paid to view ads
Imagine a business model where one gets paid to view advertisements. Far-fetched? Not at all, though it’s certainly out of the ordinary. With blockchain and peer-to-peer nano-transactions, it’s perfectly possible. And that’s precisely what the Brave browser does. By using blockchain and cryptography, it’s changing the paradigms of the predominant advertising online business model, one where more than 80 percent of the online market was cornered by Google and Facebook as of 2016, according to Infopresse.
Since advertising is suppressed by default on Brave, users can opt in or opt out of viewing messages from its advertising network. If they choose to opt in, they’re paid a Basic Attention Token (BAT). They get a crypto payment every time they agree to view a suggested message and the BATs just keep on accumulating in their wallets.
And when users want to ‘tip” online content creators (let’s call them content creators to differentiate them from publishers) [Editor’s note: the author uses the term content creator to represent both those who self-publish and those going through an intermediary like an actual publisher], they send BATs directly from their wallets without going through a banking intermediary. To be on the receiving end, you simply register as verified content creator.
At the same time, Brave locally and anonymously analyzes user interest levels while browsing, without any user data being sent to a centralized facility. Thanks to this local behavioural analysis, users can program a recurring monthly amount to be automatically allocated to content they consume, in proportion to the level of interest generated.
An explosive growth
According to Brave founder Brendan Eich, the browser has been downloaded over 12 million times so far with more than four million consumers using it on daily basis. And close to 465,000 content publishers have activated the “tip” button on their sites, Batgrowth reports. Publishers include 275,000 YouTubers, 46,000 websites, 53,500 Twitter accounts, and 35,500 broadcasters on Twitch ― and the likes of Wikipedia, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Vice, Cheddar, and Vimeo.
An estimated US$66 million has changed hands on Brave since 2016, still only a drop in US$330 billion+ online advertising bucket. But with Brave’s click-through rate hovering between an impressive 14-to-19 percent, advertisers like Intel, Pizza Hut, and Vice are finally beginning to see the light for investing in an environment with a performance factor 8.6 times higher than Google AdWords (1.91 percent click-through rate for sponsored search results).
Creators of self-published content on GitHub, Twitter, Reddit, Vimeo, Twitch, YouTube, Unsplash, and Soundcloud platforms can now get BAT tips from anyone consuming their content. Brave also recently announced that it has extended its reach to more than 250,000 brands, merchants, and causes linked to the TAP Network universal rewards marketplace, including Hotels.com, Uber, Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Walmart, HBO, and the Red Cross.
Brave is moving consumers to an ad-free model where all content is free from the get-go ― an ecosystem where users are rewarded for viewing advertising and where they can in turn reward the work of those who create and publish content that interests and engages them. It’s a market based on mutual trust, where transactions cost much less, and are disintermediated and guaranteed by proven distributed ledger technology. A Brave new world, indeed!