In technology, attention has come to be a commodity that is sought after by advertisers, publishers and content creators alike. Nevertheless, opening up a single web page today, you find yourself bombarded with tons of advertisements through a display format or video, as well as the first Google search result you get with the stamp “Ad” right next to it. Needless to say, ad technology overwhelms one’s attention span and also overwhelms one’s operating system, RAM and battery life, with more than 22 per cent consumed because of back-end ad operations. In response to this, more than 600 million users worldwide have opted in for ad blockers. This has increased the incentives for advertisers to reach more users and for publishers to decrease their advertising revenue (with publishers losing more than 66 per cent of this over the past decade). Malleable to its core, the digital advertising sphere, which has seen fundamental growth since its inception, today finds itself at an intersection that puts the three fundamental blocks of advertising on an equidistant triangle: advertisers, publishers, and users. It does so with the advent of the Basic Attention Token (BAT).
An ERC-20 token powered over the Ethereum blockchain platform, BAT is a digital utility token that aims to power the advertising industry and disrupt its current foundational values. So, as users of the internet, neither you nor we have that much say over whether you would like to see a display banner or a pop up prompting you to try out a brand’s latest product. Why is that so? Clearly, the reason is that conglomerates like Google and Facebook take advantage of their platforms and enforce the ads that they show their users. So you end up asking yourself: “Did I ever agree to see all these ads?” Of course, you did not, but do you have any other option? Not much, except for that adblocker.
Today, however, users are not just worried about seeing ads. What worries users most is their privacy being taken advantage of by advertisers and by publishers, and we can see a rift in the market happening, with security updates in Apple’s mobile operating system iOS 14.5 stirring up controversy and raising countless question marks over the future of what ads can and cannot do.
Today, users have no incentive to watch an ad, but would rather get rid of it. This, of course, hurts the advertiser as the user’s attention is not with the ad but instead is looking to finish it. Of course, this drops the advertiser’s return on investment, with publishers suffering as advertisers decrease their investments into the digital sphere. However, what if there was a way to close this issue from its core, a way to entice the user to watch an ad willingly?
So far, we have discussed the whole ad atmosphere and how it sounds from the perspective of the team behind BAT, but how do they plan on turning the whole scenario upside down? The BAT ecosystem runs closely alongside a browser called Brave, a piece of software similar in appearance to Google Chrome but with a built-in adblocker. After the user installs the software, they get asked whether they would like to earn BAT rewards for getting served ads. Depending on the action taken by that user, they earn BAT tokens. You can exchange BAT for other cryptocurrencies on exchanges like Binance, tip your favourite creators that have also done partnerships with Brave and commit to giving back to the community from 1 to 5 BAT a month to the websites you visit the most. With the help of Brave, BAT aims to give back power to the user in choosing whether to watch an ad or not. If they choose to, they are compensated for their time.
BAT has seen great results since its integration into the Brave browser’s first global private ad platform: 25.4 million monthly active users, 9.2 million daily active users, 1 million verified creators accepting BAT, millions of wallets created, thousands of ad campaigns with leading brands and growing utility in the most innovative names in blockchain gaming. The results make BAT one of the most successful altcoin projects to date, with big brands latching on including Verizon, PayPal, Lenovo and BMW.
From an advertiser’s point of view, BAT might not end up working, or it might become one of the best uses of the Ethereum network. More importantly, it is vital to take out of this that the crypto community is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with, primarily when disrupting industries. If Bitcoin maximalists have advocated for the asset to become the next digital gold, what prevents BAT from being the next big thing in the advertising industry, and what costs will advertisers incur with more power given back to the users?