Brave Wants to Destroy the Ad Business by Paying You to Watch Ads in Its Web Browser

By Catie Keck on at

A browser that works to free its users from pesky ads and pop-ups is rolling out an update to its platform with an opt-in setting to view ads in exchange for reward tokens, which can be used to either support their favourite websites or, in the future, be exchanged for things like hotel stays or gift cards.

This ad-viewing option will be available to Brave desktop users on macOS, Windows, and Linux, the company said in a Wednesday announcement. For each ad viewed, Brave says its users will receive 70 per cent of the revenue while the company will keep the change. The company reportedly saw about 40 per cent of its beta users and developers opt-in to the programme, according to TechCrunch, which isn’t bad!

At the end of each monthly cycle, users who choose to view ads will be rewarded in Basic Attention Tokens (BAT), the Brave currency that users can, for now, choose to give to their top-visited websites—the default option, per TechCrunch—or gift it to their favourite creators on platforms like YouTube. Additionally, Brave says it’s “working on an option to let users withdraw BAT from their wallets for personal use, converting their BAT to a local fiat currency through exchange partners.”

From the sound of it, though, cashing out Brave’s funny money for fiat currency may not be a monetarily beneficial option. Brave CEO Brendan Eich, formerly the chief executive of Mozilla, told TechCrunch that the exchange is “not a huge amount of value for most people, so they may prefer to just use it to give back. And that’s the real idea: A browser with the user steering it is replacing the ad tech complex.”

Eich stepped down from his role at Mozilla amid outcry over his 2008 financial support of an anti-gay marriage initiative in the US state of California. Eich, who also created the JavaScript programming language, launched Brave roughly two years after in 2016.

Much about Brave sounds pretty rad—including this new system that, as Eich notes, allows users to control their own web browsing experience—even if Eich’s track record is decidedly not so rad. The company talks a big game when it comes to privacy, claiming that its “ad matching happens directly on the user’s device, so a user’s data is never sent to anyone, including Brave.” By shutting out all the noise like ads and pop-ups, Brave claims its platform allows users to browse at speeds of up to seven times faster on mobile and twice as fast on desktop.

Eich seems to think that allowing users the ability to choose their own browsing adventure will generate a strong enough response that the “ecologically minded ones” will opt-in to its ad programme, he told TechCrunch. That said, nobody likes watching ads, which is part of the very foundation on which his company was built. You also have to wonder how many hours a user will have to watch before those reward tokens add up to anything remotely resembling a weekend hotel getaway. But the mission is really about changing the business model for virtually the entire web.

Still, scoring a few points here and there to watch select ads on a self-described privacy-focused platform seems like a much better—if not a slightly controversial—alternative to the hell that is browsing on many other platforms.

Featured image: Brave