Basic Attention Token
Basic Attention Token (BAT) is a utility token and an open-source ad exchange platform. It measures users’ attention while they interact with ads and compensates both users and publishers, to allow for balanced revenue sharing between participants.
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Basic Attention Token is a digital advertising token which runs on the Ethereum blockchain. The BAT ecosystem is a decentralized open-source platform for advertisers, publishers and users who feel that the modern-day digital advertising is rigged in favor of intermediaries and large players such as Facebook or Google. The BAT project was launched in response to what its creators saw as increasing monopolization of the advertising business which leaves publishers and users on the receiving end.
At the same time, it aims to correct others issues related to digital advertising, such as compromised user privacy and an increasing number of ad frauds. The BAT token aims to do this by allowing the users to be compensated for the “attention” they give to the ads shown online, while the publishers can have more direct access to their earnings with the removal of the intermediaries. The final piece in this chain are the advertisers within the BAT ecosystem which provides them with insightful analytical data for better management and targeting of their ad campaigns.
BAT Wants to Change Current Digital Advertising Landscape
Key issues with the digital advertising market the BAT aims to fix actually affect three main parties in this market. These are:
In the case of the users, the main identified problem is the erosion of their privacy and unsolicited tracking of their activities online. The reason for this is the fact that intrusive ad placements had initially failed to deliver the goods when it comes to revenues. These ads kept annoying the users since they were frequently irrelevant to their interests and hard to avoid. As the numbers of clicks on these ads dropped together with the revenues, the businesses responded by starting to gather the users’ private data and checking their browsing histories without prior approval.
In addition to being borderline illegal, this approach led to an increase in the use of mobile data for ads and trackers, rise in tracking malware, longer loading times for mobile users and decreased phone battery life due to ads. All of this contributed to increasing resistance to this approach from the current generation of ad-blind users who are now less likely to provide private data and frequently resort to installing ad blockers.
The state of modern day digital advertising can be described as hurtful for the content creators and publishers as well. Illegal tracking of data and excessive advertising has led them to face difficulties in using online ads to monetize their content. As the users try to avoid the ads that accompany content, they inadvertently hurt the sole source of income for many publishers. Revenues in this segment are now actually increased by having the ads removed, while the market faces the long-term duopoly of Facebook and Google as the main middlemen in this process. Just in the UK, these giants are forecast to collect over 70% of the total digital advertising spending. At the same time,frauds involving ads caused USD 6.5 billion in damage in 2017 alone.
BAT Token’s Integration with Brave Browser
To counter this, the Basic Attention Token platform was designed with a comprehensive approach in mind, aiming to help all the parties in the digital advertising industry chain. The process starts with the tracking of the level of engagement the users have while interacting with digital ads, and the storing of the related data in a distributed ledger on the BAT platform. The main unit of measurement here is the user’s mental engagement or “attention” invested in viewing digital advertising content.
To make the attention tracking possible, the initial stage of the BAT platform implementation involved its integration with the Brave browser which was developed by the BAT team. Brave is an open source browser built with the primary goal of delivering advanced privacy and speed to its users. This is supposed to be achieved by having Brave automatically block all malware and unwanted trackers used by the advertising middlemen. Simply put, Brave will go above & beyond the call of duty when it comes to ad and web tracker blocking, aiming to outperform even dedicated ad blockers with its zero-tolerance policy approach to ad filtering. In addition to this, Brave attempts to make each visited website use HTTPS protocol to provide the users with an even higher level of browsing security.
Brave will still anonymously track the user’s engagement (i.e. attention) in an anonymous and secure manner with the help of blockchain, but this type of “tracking” will not involve leaking this data to third parties which seek to profit from it. Instead of this, the user’s private information and the data gathered on where their attention is spent the most will be kept on the user’s device only. Brave is the first browser-based integration of the BAT technology, while the ultimate aim of the developers is to have the BAT system integrated with every mainstream browser such as Chrome or Firefox.
BAT Ads Ecosystem Aims to Benefit Users
The data which is stored locally plays a key role in the BAT system, particularly its component called the “BAT ads”. The BAT ads’ engine includes attention measurement and analytical systems as well as machine learning capabilities. These features allow for the measurement and evaluation of the “attention value” on the BAT platform. This value is calculated for each ad and it represents the measure of incremental time which the user spends in interacting with a particular ad, as well as the proportion of the visibility of the ad pixels compared to the content which is being viewed.
This is the point at which the browser’s machine learning algorithms can kick in, as they effectively “instruct” the Brave (or any other browser) to show only the advertisements which hold relevance to the users and customize their showing based on the stored data. At the same time, the ads can be displayed without the possibility to link them with the identity of any particular user. As this is done locally, i.e. on a single device, there is no need for the services of third-party tracking software which would forward private data to the advertising middlemen.
How Can BAT Help Advertisers and Publishers?
Rather than acting as an intermediary, the BAT platform attempts to link the advertisers with users in an arrangement which has the potential to be mutually beneficial. Advertisers can use BAT tokens to buy advertising space and pay the users for their attention. The process starts by providing the interested advertisers with the opportunity to use the BAT’s smart contract system to show ads which feature locked BAT token payment to the user. Whenever a user interacts with or views the ad, a portion of this token payment is distributed to them as compensation for the time they spend in viewing an ad.
In return, the advertisers can increase their return on investment by having access to the analytical data which are gathered by the BAT’s machine learning and attention measurement systems. Based on these data, the advertisers can have an impartial insight into the performance of the specific ads in the field. This allows them to tailor their campaigns more easily, as the data on the user’s attention can inform their approach to creating more personalized and user-tailored ads in the future. In addition to more streamlined targeting, the BAT platform aims to use this system to reduce ad-related frauds.
In addition to users and advertisers, another potential beneficiary in the BAT system are publishers or content producers which host ads. They can retain ad revenue in proportion to the user attention value they create. In fact, the more efficient a publisher’s content is in drawing constant attention from the users, the larger the allocated revenue will be. Based on the BAT’s profit-sharing model, up to 70% of ad revenue goes to the publishers. At the same time, Brave keeps 15% and leaves the users with an option to keep their 15% share or donate it to their favorite publisher. In addition to receiving a larger piece of the advertising pie usually reserved for the middlemen, the publishers using the BAT platform would be incentivized to create more engaging content on diverse publishing platforms and thus secure access to a wider range of both advertisers and users.
Finally, the BAT gives them the opportunity to select the particular ads which will be shown alongside their content, helping them create and offer better user experience for the content consumers. The list of BAT’s verified publishers is growing, with its system accepted by The Washington Post, Guardian, Vimeo, Vice and others.
Brave Payments Program
Integration with the Brave platform allows the BAT platform to implement an additional feature which is closely related to the functionality of its token. Once fully implemented, the Brave Payments program will make it possible for the users to provide support to their favored content producers. This system works like this: from the total balance of tokens they receive for their time spent on ads, the users will be able to set aside a specific amount of BAT tokens and send them to their favorite publishers, content creators or websites in form of a donation, similar to the system which is being used on Patreon. To make this possible, the BAT developers developed a BAT wallet which is embedded with the Brave browser in order to allow for the easy transfer of tokens for this purpose.
In addition to sending donations and tips, the BAT system allows the users to spend their tokens on the platform to gain access to the restricted content or premium products, or value-added features such as photos in high resolution or data services. Another planned implementation of the token transaction system on the BAT foresees using these tokens to pay for the selected quality comments on forums or voting for them. To keep track of these transactions, users will have access to the Brave Payments dashboard which will give them information on their account balance, incoming contributions and the overview of the websites or content creators they have “tipped” with their earned BAT tokens.
BAT Token Availability and Development History
Due to its highly specific purpose and use, BAT tokens cannot be mined. The tokens were offered as part of the ICO which took place in May 2017, with their total supply fixed at the amount of 1,500,000,000 BAT. One third of the tokens were kept by the BAT team to be used as grants for the promotion of the token and the development of the user growth pools. No more tokens will be created once these pools are exhausted. In February 2018, BAT team launched the referral scheme which rewards publishers with BAT tokens if they manage to bring new users to the platform.
As of November 2018, the BAT’s market cap has reached the value of USD 328 million, while the currency recorded its current all-time high in early 2018 when it had the value of USD 864 billion. BAT can be bought through its partner Uphold.com or by using the Brave wallet to convert the BTC or ETH cryptocurrency to it. At the same time, BAT is an ERC-20 token which means that it can be stored in ERC20 compatible wallets.