Brave, a web browser that blocks conventional ads and strips away data trackers, announced the trial launch of its own ad technology on Tuesday. Users may opt-in to test Brave’s “consent-based digital advertising model” before it becomes more widely available. As an extra bit of incentive, Brave stated that users will eventually receive 70 percent of the gross ad revenue while still maintaining their privacy.
Consenting users who sign up for the early access version of the software will be shown about 250 pre-packaged ads directly via the browser and in a private channel. This special browser version will send a detailed log of browsing activities to Brave, which it will feed into its machine-learning algorithms. However, the company assures its users that it will not share this data with anyone, and users can leave the test at any time.
The main difference between Brave’s ads and conventional ones is that the browser chooses which ones are shown to users based on the data it collects from the user’s browsing habits and interests without sharing any of the information with third parties.
Brave also plans to quickly evolve its ads in the coming months as it seeks to understand how browsing behavior is impacted by rewarded user-centric ads. The company will pay users that interact with ads using Basic Attention Tokens (BAT)—its own brand of crypto tokens that can be used on the Brave Payments system to anonymously support different websites, publishers and YouTube channels. According to Brave, roughly 3,500 websites have signed up to receive the Brave Payments in addition to 10,400 YouTube creators and Twitch streamers.
As of April, an estimated 2.2 million people were using the Brave browser, and the company—founded by former Firefox leader Brendan Eich—expects that number to double by year’s end. That still falls far short of competitors such as Google Chrome, which has over a billion users, and Firefox, but recent events have raised awareness about data collection and privacy issues among users. As the testing reaches its final phase, Brave expects its ads to generate strong revenues, causing the BAT payment system to expand beyond the browser.
“The current advertising model exploits users and has eroded trust, as well as net revenue to publishers and other creators,” Brave wrote in a blog post. “We will reward users for their attention while shielding their identities and protecting their privacy. We believe that user data and attention hold substantial value if they are defended vigilantly on users’ devices, and that the transparent Brave ads delivery approach and the Basic Attention Token will provide users a fair share.”