Basic Attention Token (BAT)

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The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is the new token for the digital advertising industry. It pays publishers for their content and users for their attention, while providing advertisers with more in return for their ads.

The Brave browser team designed the Basic Attention Token (or BAT) in order to increase the efficiency of digital marketing. The utility of the token is based on user attention, and can be used to obtain a variety of advertising and attention-based services on the Brave platform. Advertisers, publishers, and users can all exchange the Ethereum-powered tokens. Users earn BAT from publishers by interacting with advertising or simple tasks, while publishers are paid by advertisers.

The Challenge

The driving force behind BAT was the ‘abuse’ that users deal with on the internet every day. Ads and trackers use up to 50% of the average user’s mobile data, which could cost up to $23 a month in some cases. On average, ads use about 5 seconds of mobile load time, and can decrease phone battery life by as much as 21%. In addition to huge increases in malware over the last year, the sheer number of trackers hosted by large media sites such as Facebook and Youtube threaten user privacy.

Publishers are also in trouble; behemoths like Facebook and Google account for 73% of all ad dollars spent, and up to 99% of all growth. These giants command the lions share due to their size, but also because they enable monetisation of publisher content on their platform. Industry-wide, revenue is down 66%, partially due to increasingly complex ad blockers (estimated to run on over 600 million devices). To add to their woes, bot networks and their masters inflicted $7.2 billion in fraud.

These adverse market conditions put advertisers in a tough position. Not only do they not have access to detailed information on what they’re paying for (see the recent Youtube ad placement scandal), but poor targeting can mean double digit drops in click-through rates. With fake websites and unscrupulous third party advertisers, it’s easy to see why the advertising industry is ripe for disruption.

BAT: How it Works

When browsing, Brave records your attention anonymously and rewards publishers with BAT tokens. As shown below, the system operates in a three point structure.

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Measuring Attention

As users view ads and content, Brave measures user attention in real time. The price of the ad’s reach (or Attention Value) is calculated on incremental duration and amount of pixels in view proportional to relevant content. This is measured prior to any direct engagement with the advertising. The Brave team is also working with publishers and advertisers to better define the value of user attention. One model being evaluated include a views-over-time model similar to television advertising. They are also considering assigning points based on the duration of a user view. After interactions, ads are anonymously matched with stated interests using local machine learning algorithms.


Users can redeem BAT tokens for services and premium content through the Brave platform. They may also be withdrawn from the platform and exchanged for other currencies. 1.5B pre-mined tokens generated during the ICO on May 31st, 2017. That ICO made some headlines when it raised $35M in just over 30 seconds of sale. Roughly one-third of the total is under the control of the BAT team for developer and user growth funding.

The team also expect to see significant numbers of users tipping content publishers in a similar fashion to Patreon and Twitch.

The Future

The Brave browser was co-developed with the BAT token, the two projects will remain distinct. The Basic Attention Token is not limited to the Brave browser and can be integrated into other web browsers and apps. Large media producers are already taking interest; The Washington Post, The Guardian, Vimeo, Vice, Coinmarketcap, and over 10,000 other publishers have all begun accepting BAT tokens.

Looking ahead, Know-Your-Customer (KYC) shows up in the BAT roadmap, indicating that the BAT team will be working to comply with US KYC regulations.

This is likely in order to allow users to buy and sell BAT. Using credit or debit cards for purchases in the Brave browser would be an important step for the project. This capability would allow web browsers from outside the crypto-space participate in the BAT ecosystem.

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