Cryptocurrency

Basic Attention Token Pros and Cons – BAT Explained

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What is Basic Attention Token?

The phrase “attention economy” may sound as if it belongs in a Black Mirror episode, but like it or not, it is what fuels the internet. The single best way to monetize online content is advertising, which can slow down load times, eat up a surprising amount of mobile data, and even track you across websites. However, Brendan Eich (Former Mozilla CEO and inventor of JavaScript) and the development team at Basic Attention Token (BAT) think that this situation can be better for everyone. They are building a cryptocurrency that quantifies your attention, transforms it into a unit of exchange, and distributes it between advertisers, publishers, and you.

While it sounds abstract and invasive—not so different from the current system—it really is neither. Basic Attention Token is simply a unit of exchange that advertisers can use to buy ad space on websites you visit. Any information about you and your preferences is stored safely on your device, so advertisers can show you targeted ads, but can’t track you. You can even control where some of the ad revenue goes. In return, advertisers get a more efficient, accurate way of reaching people with no risk of fraud.

How does Basic Attention Token work?

The BAT token exists as a crypto token on the Ethereum blockchain and is governed by a “smart contract”–a decentralized program that tells the blockchain where it should send tokens. Advertisers and publishers can join the network to buy or sell ad space.

First, advertisers buy Basic Attention Tokens on the blockchain, which gives them the right to buy space for a certain type of ad. You (the user) visit a site and get matched with their ad. Software in the background then times how long that ad is in view and how large the ad is relative to other content on the page. These two things are the most important measures of your attention, and they determine how much the advertiser will pay.

When you see the ad, the advertiser pays the site for your attention, as usual—but you get a cut as well. Depending on what type of ad it is, you could receive up to 70% of the payment versus the site’s 30%. If your attention is worth ten BAT, then, the site receives three tokens and you receive seven. Why is the advertiser paying you? Because no matter what site you’re on, according to the smart contract rules, you get to choose where some of the ad revenue goes.

If you want to support the site you’re on you can leave tips, buy access to paywalled articles, spend it on premium content, et cetera. However, if you want to keep your BAT and spend it on another site, you are free to do that as well. The developers say that in the future, you will even be able to withdraw the tokens and sell them on exchanges for other currency.

As of right now, this system only works in one browser: Brave. Brave was initially built around strong privacy and ad-blocking features, which makes it a good fit for a crypto advertising system that emphasizes user control and anonymity. The developers plan to integrate across more browsers and apps as they continue building the system; there are still a few steps to go before it is a complete product.

Recent developments

On January 17th, 2018, Brave started a “million-dollar referral program” offering five dollars worth of BAT to content creators who refer their subscribers to the browser. This is part of a big push to increase the number of users to scale the system up into a viable ads platform.

Fun fact

Brendan Eich may not be a household name, but he is responsible for a significant part of the modern internet. He co-founded Mozilla, the company behind Firefox, and is the inventor of JavaScript—a programming language that is behind the scenes of almost every webpage in existence.


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Just another aspiring small business owner and amateur photographer blogging in an attempt to break down personal finance lingo.

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