On Sunday I mentioned in the weekly linkspam that Firefox co-creator Brendan Eich had created a new browser, and I thought I might take a moment to explain why, and why it actually seems like a useful innovation.
Part of the problem of online content creation isn’t so much that it’s not lucrative, it’s that for most content creators, it’s 100% pro bono. For example, in the past six months since I put Google Ads on the site, Google has determined that I’m (eventually) to be paid something like fifteen dollars. Given that server space costs considerably more than that, it’s not exactly something I’m going to quit my day job over, right?
Enter Brave, Eich’s new web browser. Brave is an attempt at a solution, and even though it sounds like a cash grab (which it kind of is, but Brave’s developers need to get paid too, I suppose) it might also be going in a useful direction. Here’s how it works:
First, Brave blocks any and all ads it encounters. Next, it replaces those ads itself, with ads purchased through its platform, and serves them directly to you through the browser. Then it sends 55% of the revenue to the website owner, sends 15% to the ad supplier, takes 15% for itself, and gives the final 15% to you, the Brave user.
But that 15% isn’t for you. It appears that it’s stored in escrow for you, so you can — with a click — give micropayments to websites whose content you like.
It looks as though it’s going to store the funds in Bitcoin, and also allow you to top up your account as a user to give more out in micropayments than you take in in viewed ads revenue. From the Brave FAQ:
We’re still developing the system, now entirely in the open source on github.com, but at this point we know we will use BTC only for permissionless payment delivery to user and publisher wallets that we will create using BitGo’s APIs. We hope to keep funds in BTC only in monthly payment buffers, to reduce effects of volatility. We intend to let expert users “bring their own BTC” to self-fund their wallets and auto-micropay for as much of their browsing as they like.
What’s more, it looks like you’ll be able to turn the whole system off, or just part of it:
Users have the options to turn off both ad blocking and ad replacement. We intend to work with publishers to enable display of their direct-sold inventory and provide access to our private targeting system.
Ars Technica points out that how this will work on the advertisers’ end is a little iffy, with advertisers potentially having to pay twice: once to advertise on a website and then a second time to advertise through Brave for the same websites. Still, if it works, it could lead to a simple, seemingly “free” to the user way to “tip” your favourite writers online.
And I sure wouldn’t mind that.
Richard Ford Burley is a writer and doctoral candidate at Boston College, as well as an editor at Ledger, the first academic journal devoted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, feminism, and futurism here at This Week In Tomorrow.