New Age Web Browsing
What do you call a company that uses Google’s open source software to try to dethrone Google as the King of Ads?
Brave is fixing digital advertising, and doing so, they are making a killer web browser and an amazing use case for crypto.
Digital advertising is broken… Users face unprecedented levels of malvertisements and privacy violations. Mobile advertising results in as much as $23 per month in data charges on the average user’s data plan, slow page loads, and as much as 21% less battery life.
The solution, Brave claims, is a browser and a blockchain. The browser ensures user privacy, while the blockchain exchanges users’ attention for publishers’ ads.
The goal is to create a fully distributed Zero Knowledge Proof system that maximizes the ‘Basic Attention Economy’ while compensating users for their attention. All while trustlessly maintaining complete user anonymity.
In Brave’s world, you are the customer, not the product.
Brave – Open Sourced, Privacy Protected
The Brave browser is the first part of the solution. Perhaps the easiest way to think of Brave is basically an ungoogled version of Chrome:
…Brave is based on the same Chromium source code as Chrome, but unlike Google’s browser, Brave doesn’t make any connections to Google in the background. We’ve disabled Google Accounts and Sync and removed all the Chrome-specific telemetry and reporting code. Google isn’t used for search suggestions either…
- Auto-play (great for surfing while in meetings!)
The Attention Economy
Ever go to a crypto faucet or click on ‘You will never guess what this scantily clad actress did!’ links and get bombarded by ads, promos, and general electronic pollution? Kinda sucks.
In today’s world, information is cheap. And online, information is EVERYWHERE!
As Mr. Herbert Simon so nicely put it.
A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.
Your attention is a scare resource. Brave aims to make the most of it. Using something called ‘Basic Attention Matrix,’ (BAM) Brave can work out which webpages matter the most to you. They can even figure which content on the page is most interesting based on your actions. This is beyond what traditional scripts and cookies can do today. The best part is, Brave does this without compromising your privacy.
User privacy is of utmost importance to Brave. If BAM metrics were collected traditionally, then your information would not be so private. However, Brave is more than a browser; it is a machine learning powerhouse. It can pick up on what is most important to you, strip your identity from the data, and then provide feedback to content creators or publishers.
All private data is kept on your device. It is not leaked to the internet by any means.
Currently, Brave anonymizes your data in a centralized kind of way. Eventually, the entire system will be decentralized and blockchain based.
BAT – The Basic Attention Token
Brave uses BAT to facilitate payments between the advertiser, the publisher, and the user. The idea is amazingly simple: pay based on user’s attention.
Advertisers will pay publishers based on how well they capture attention. Then for giving their attention, users are paid in BAT (you are the customer, not the product [cough cough facebook cough])
Eventually, advertisers will be able to run highly targeted ‘private ads’ on Brave. These ads will be similar sites like Swagbucks that pay users to watch videos. Users will get paid up to 70% of the cost of private ads. An advertiser pays Brave 10 BAT to show and ad to you, and you get 7 BAT for giving your attention.
Also, in the not so distant future, Brave will allow some ads onto the sites that you visit. However, you’ll get paid for watching these ads too. At the end of the month, Brave will send you BAT depending on which sites you visited, how much time you spent on the sites, the ads, etc, etc.
A nuance that has a real chance of taking off with Brave is semi premium content. This is the content that is too expensive for content creators to make without getting paid, but nothing that would entice a user enough to pay a subscription fee, or pay per view. Semi premium content could be viable as users would pay with their attention. Instead of advertisers paying the user a portion of what they pay the publisher, the publisher would just get the whole payment.
This would be essentially the Internet today, but with better content.
Brave claims that it protects your privacy, but it also says that it collects all of your attention data so that advertisers can create very targeted ads. They will pay you for your attention, sure, but how can they guarantee that your privacy is actually private?
With a Zero Knowledge Proof.
(Currently, BAT is Ethereum based, but given the end goal of a Zero Knowledge Proof system, this could change.)
Zero Knowledge Proofs
A Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs) are fascinating. They allow for someone to verify the secret of another without leaking any information about the secret. I have a secret and you need to confirm that secret. How do I prove to you that I know the secret without telling you the secret?
We set up a test. I pass this test only if I know the secret. I eventually fail if I don’t. The easiest test is Ali Baba’s Cave.
Ali Baba’s Cave is a giant donut with a single entrance. There is a gate on the opposite side of the entrance and only I know the secret phrase to get in (Open Sesame!). Each half of the cave is labeled A and B.
Without you looking, I go into the cave and stand by the gate. You then stand at the entrance and call out a side you want me to appear.
If you call out B, that is pretty easy. I just walk over
If you call out A, that is also pretty easy. I open the gate and show up at A
No matter how many times we repeat the test, I will be able to show up at the side you want. You have no idea what my secret code is, but eventually you will be convinced that I know my secret. Then you can confirm it.
Consider if I am trying to trick you. Each test I have a 50% chance of fooling you. But, since we repeat the test, I will need to be incredible lucky to pass without being caught. If we repeat the test 4 times, I only have a 6% chance of getting it right. If we repeat the test 33 times, then I have a 0.00000001% chance of fooling you (or about a Satoshi’s worth =)).
Here is another example that is more complex, but illustrates the idea beautifully.
ZKPs and Your Data
Brave applies this to your data. Your privacy is the secret, and advertisers want to confirm they are sending ads to the right people. Brave can convince advertisers that they are, without giving up your secret.
This is also, in part, what allows you to get paid for your attention. How would an advertiser know that a specific person saw their ad, but never know who that person is? With a ZPK it’s possible.
But how can you trust that this is actually happening? Enormous wealth has been built on collecting big data. How can you trust that Brave isn’t also selling your private data? The answer: you can’t trust Brave. You use a blockchain.
Blockchains are by default trustless, verifiable, and decentralized. Users, publishers, and advertisers will all be able to verify Brave is doing what they want. Users can prove their identities never leave their device, publishers can prove that users spent time on their site, and advertisers can prove their ad got attention.
Brave is a crypto applications that just makes sense. Paying users for using a browser that fundamentally protects their data is a great. Using a blockchain to guarantee that protection is genius.
Brave is a strong stand-alone browser. An ungoogled Chrome has a lot of charm and it is no wonder why over 5.5 million people are already using Brave. Paired with a blockchain to ensure user privacy and paying users for their attention icing on the cake. Icing that everyone would actually eat.