Adblocking users want anonymity, privacy and security. Online content publishers, for their part, have been trying to squirm out from under adblockers since they hit the scene.
The Brave browser has a new idea: it’s going to line your pocket with Bitcoin in exchange for viewing ads.
The browser was launched by former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich in January. Like the hugely popular Adblock Plus, Brave is also a for-profit adblocker.
Adblock Plus doesn’t make money from the millions of people who use its desktop and mobile browser extensions (like so much on the web, Adblock Plus is “free”).
Instead, the company makes money through an “acceptable ads” program, by charging big advertisers for “whitelisting” ads that meet a murky set of standards.
Brave, on the other hand, was launched with a business model that involves blocking some “bad ads” and replacing them with ads from advertisers that pay to be on Brave’s own advertising network of “clean ads” that meet its standards of not slowing down page load times or tracking users.
In other words, Brave is promising these kind of protections, for which cautious users have turned to adblockers:
- Safeguarding our privacy from ads that track us across the web.
- Faster and less annoying web experience.
- Protection from being compromised by malvertising from ad networks that deliver malware.
Some 78% of Naked Security readers have told us that they’d stop using a website that required them to disable adblockers, for the very good reasons listed above.
As it is, the rise of adblockers have sparked a bevvy of ways to strangle them.
That’s hardly surprising, given the beeeeeeeeelions!! that adblockers supposedly cost publishers.
- An adblocker blocker cooked up by somebody from Google who heard the enormous sucking sound of lost revenues
- Apple open the flood gate to adblocking on its mobile Safari browser
- Sweden’s publishers scheme to block adblocker users
- At least one lawsuit over their legality
- Much gnashing of teeth over their rise
- People get excited over what turned out to be the incorrect assumption that Microsoft’s Edge browser would come with a native adblocker
- Sites that swear they’ll take their ball and go home if you don’t either watch their ads or pay for the privilege not to
- A comparison of adblocking companies to a “modern-day protection racket”
Brave is intended to be a compromise between the warring parties. The company has put up the specifications for how it will work and is now seeking feedback from developers.
In a nutshell, Brave will operate in two modes: users can choose adblocking or “ad replacement.”
Ad replacement is where you see ads: the company inserts ads after blocking, with the goal of not bogging down page load speed. The ads support the sites you browse, but they’re selected based on browser-private user data with no remote tracking: “not even by our servers,” the company promises.
In practice, it won’t be that black and white: the preferences panel will also let you designate certain sites as being ad-free and everything else as ad-replacement.
You’ll also have the option of being “ad-free for free,” for those who can’t cotton to the idea of paying for content at all whatsoever, be it via Bitcoin or watching ads.
An integrated Bitcoin payment system called the Brave Ledger will handle payments, putting bitcoins into your wallet if you’ve agreed to see ads and taking them out if you’ve opted to have them blocked.
The fees Brave Software takes in from advertisers will go into one pot. The publishers get the lion’s share – 55% – weighted by how many ad impressions are served on their sites.
What’s left over gets divvied up between Brave, its ad-matching partners, and the users, with each getting 15%.
For all the interested parties, Brave will deposit the money into individual bitcoin wallets. From there, you can either grab the money or donate it back to your favorite sites. Donation to the sites will be the default, in fact.
Both users and publishers will have to verify their identities. That means an email and phone number for users.
If you don’t verify your identity, your share will automatically be donated to the sites you visit most. Brave hastens to assure that it won’t be able to correlate browsing history with payments to your wallet.
Publishers will also have to verify their identity to claim funds, but it will be a more stringent process and will depend on their size.
This is Brave’s thinking about the premise:
We believe this system, which puts users in charge of their Web experiences and helps create a direct relationship with their favored publishers, will finally reset the ad tech ecosystem in favor of consumers and content providers. This is a win-win for everyone who has a stake in the open Web and who is weary of giving up privacy and revenue to the ad-tech intermediaries and their high “ad tax”.
Readers, what do you think? Will you give Brave a try?
The proof will be in the pudding, I figure.
It will be interesting to see how well Brave does in making sure that pudding doesn’t poison us with malvertising, gum up our privacy or glom onto us and leave tracking footprints!