Since its introduction in May 2017, the Basic Attention Token (BAT) has been slowly overhauling the digital advertising space as we know it. In fact, it has been named the most promising cryptocurrency in 2020.
Advertisers and publishers in China and around the world have long been battling ad fraud. At the same time, users are tired of receiving unwanted ads. So what’s the solution?
Let us present “blockchain-based digital advertising”. In this Tenba Group article, we introduce the background of digital advertising through blockchain, as well as this exciting new technology, its 3 key benefits, and how your business can profit from this.
Make sure not to confuse the BAT, which stands for Basic Attention Token, with another famous abbreviation in the Chinese world, where BAT stands for “Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent“. These are China’s number one search engine, ecommerce platform, and tech giant behind WeChat and QQ respectively.
Explaining Ad Fraud
Before we explain the Basic Attention Token in more detail, it makes sense to look at why the BAT has been developed in the first place. Digital ad fraud is unfortunately far more common than one might think. Some sources state around 30 billion USD per year in digital ad fraud!
And China holds the unfortunate record as the world’s ad fraud capital. If fact, around 80% of the worldwide ad fraud occurs in China. Between ad stacking, bots, fake users, and many other nefarious ways of producing illegitimate results, ad fraud leaves users, publishers, and advertisers frustrated.
Here is an example of one way that ad fraud wreaks havoc in the digital ad world. Let’s say a business with a website signs up to get paid for every 1,000 views of their site. A bot refreshes the page to drive up the number of views or “impressions”.
When it reaches 1,000 views, the advertiser is still charged for the view even though there was no chance that the users who viewed the site were ever going to buy anything from the site. For businesses that display ads, ad fraud can increase conversion costs until it’s no longer profitable to run ads anymore.
The Victims of Ad Fraud
Ad fraud affects companies and ad agencies all the time. Well-known international high-end brands like Apple or Dior, and tend to be more affected. A Chinese advertising agency can report that an ad campaign was a success. When in fact, the results were muddy at best and illegitimate at worst.
For example, very high ad viewability sounds like a good result on its own. But if you look more closely, high viewability with a zero increase in sales is usually a sign of ad fraud. Meanwhile, users like us are overwhelmed with aggressive and invasive ads. Not to mention, consumers suffer from slowed-down devices because of tracking software.
What is the Basic Attention Token?
BAT is an ERC20 token, which is simply a token based on Ethereum blockchain technology. It serves as the currency for the exchanges that occur between advertisers, publishers, and users of the network. Essentially, it monetizes human attention and “pays” users to surf the web.
It is important to note that BAT is not a currency in the financial sense, but rather a utility token. According to basicattentiontoken.org, the tokens “do not represent or confer any ownership right or stake, share or security or equivalent rights, or any right to receive future revenue shares, intellectual property rights, or any other form of participation in or relating to the BAT platform.” BAT can be stored in any ERC20 compatible wallet.
The Use of BAT
The plans for using BAT are still developing. The main usage will be integrating it with the Brave browser. This is already in full swing, but we will get to that in a little bit.
Since April 2019, the BAT can be traded for real-world rewards such as Amazon, Starbucks, Apple, and Uber. Other potential uses could be to pay users to view ads in messenger apps like Telegram. The future capabilities of BAT have much potential and look very promising, especially since it’s still rather new.
Blockchain Technology in China
Whereas blockchain is a big deal in China, and projects similar to BAT have been started, none of them were rolled out. In fact, China leads the world in blockchain-related patents, and more than 35,000 blockchain companies are operating in mainland China. At the end of 2019, China even announced that it is also working on its own cryptocurrency as well as a digital token.
In China, there is no blockchain-solution like the BAT to combat ad fraud yet. Since the Middle Kingdom’s number one search engine Baidu is full of ads, there is, in fact, the need to launch a solution like the Basic Attention Token there.
How can BAT help against Ad Fraud?
BAT can revolutionize the digital ad space because it is based on blockchain technology. If you remember from our previous blog post about Steemit, blockchain technology relies on a public ledger that does not have one single owner. This means that fraudulent activity will be virtually impossible to conduct because each node in the blockchain has to check and approve each transaction.
So, how can it help with ad fraud? A common situation that occurs in digital marketing is that a marketing platform, publisher, and advertiser all claim a different amount of impressions (likely due to fraudulent activity).
So, which of those three has the most accurate data? The answer is unclear. Blockchain technology will prevent this issue because the network will verify every transaction.
Since China is by far most affected by ad fraud globally, the need to find a solution is pressing. Maybe taking a look at BAT and the Brave Browser can provide the spark of inspiration to finally roll out an equivalent solution in the Middle Kingdom.
Introducing the Brave Browser
Everyone has their favorite browser with the popular ones being Chrome, Firefox, or even Edge. But imagine a new browser that completely blocks ads and takes privacy to a whole new meaning. Welcome Brave Browser, the free and open-source browser with an ambitious future.
With a tagline that says, “You are not a product,” the Brave browser has a plan for eliminating malware, trackers, and fraud. According to Brendan Eich, this plan rolls out in two stages:
- Stage one is to block ads and trackers and reward sites based on user attention.
- Stage two is to move towards decentralized ad exchange and introduce a new currency.
This is where the BAT comes in. You can earn the utility token by giving attention to ad content or anything else the users look at. So, the publishers will receive ad revenue in the form of tokens, and users receive tokens for viewing ads.
Unfortunately, due to the strict internet censorship, Chinese users still have difficulties to download the Brave Browser. They rely on browsers like UC, QQ, and Baidu instead.
3 Benefits of BAT
The use of the Basic Attention Token has three key benefits:
- Publishers see increased revenue, leaving behind inefficiencies.
- Advertisers are able to better target their audience and increase their ROI.
- Users can enjoy their privacy on top of earning revenue for their attention.
The beauty of the BAT is that it is fully integrated with the Brave web browser. Today, Brave Ads are enabled by default in Brave Rewards. This provides users and businesses with the ability to earn Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) every time they view an ad.
Brave Ads are presented separately from the users’ web content in order to keep personal data completely private and anonymous. Try Brave Browser Now!
BAT on YouTube
The Brave browser has already implemented BAT into YouTube. Users can donate BAT to their favorite YouTubers.
With this system, the browser logs viewing time on behalf of the content creators, no matter which site embeds the video.
The Distribution of Basic Attention Tokens
There is a total limit on BAT tokens, which is 1.5 billion. Today, around 1 billion tokens are in circulation. Advertisers will pay BAT to access users’ attention. Users who opt-in to ads will receive BAT for their attention.
They can use their token in a variety of ways including selling it or using to access Brave’s premium services. Publishers who display ads will earn BAT for their high quality, relevant ads.
An important point to remember is that BAT wasn’t designed to be bought and sold in the same way as other currencies. However, as of late 2018, Coinbase Pro officially approved trading BAT. At this time, besides Coinbase Pro, other major exchanges are trading BAT as well.
The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is revolutionizing the digital ads world with its high privacy and anti-fraud functionality. At the same time, it is likely to take some time until digital ads are fully blockchain-based.
While blockchain platforms are an exciting prospect for advertisers, it will take an entire industry to make the switch for the situation to truly change.
We at Tenba Group are excited to see, which projects around cryptocurrency and digital tokens China will develop and release in the future. We are curious whether the Brave Browser will ultimately manage to surpass the Chinese censorship, opening alternatives for marketing in the Middle Kingdom.
In the meantime, if you need a helping hand with marketing in China, like launching your own app, creating your Chinese website, Baidu SEO and PPC, as well as social media marketing, Tenba Group is here for you! Contact us to find out more and to develop the best digital marketing and ecommerce strategy for your business.
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