Brave Inc will soon launch the stable version of Brave Browser (Brave 1.0) that will include a fully functional opt-in advertising system. This opt-in advertising system (Brave Ads) is one of the most anticipated blockchain products of 2019 made by Brave Inc. The reason it is very important is because the success or failure of it will determine the future value of Basic Attention Token (BAT).
After it was revealed that brave ads will ship sometime in 2019, many BAT community members started speculating on how Brave Ads would actually function. Unlike Facebook & Google, Brave Ads won't use server side tracking for ad matching. Brave Ads matching system runs in the client software which is Brave Browser itself. To explain this better, let me start with how Google Ads are served.
Google collects different types of user data such as location, IP address, cookies etc. to make sure they serve relevant ads to users. The data Google collects from its users is kept in its servers. Whenever the user requests the AdSense code in his browser (this happens when a user browses a website that monetizes using AdSense), Google checks who is requesting it on its server and matches the best possible advertisement available. This matching system uses previously collected data to determine which ad should be served to the user.
The AdSense script a user loads on monetized websites works this way. They generally show different ads to different users based on their location, age etc etc. This system is the core of the internet’s monetization system. People sell their data in order to get free content. This is how the internet economy runs and it ensures that it is economically sustainable.
But its downside is that it violates user privacy. Large tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo.. have huge collections of user data. Since this data stays in centralized servers, they are prone to getting hacked. And that’s exactly what happened with Yahoo a few years ago. Millions of users had their private data breached and revealed to the public domain when Yahoo got hacked.
Brave Browser wants to get rid of these downsides. That’s why Brave Ads introduced a new system of ad matching that doesn’t put user data at risk. The reason all the user data is at risk is because they stay in centralized servers. Brave Ads on the other hand won’t keep this data on their own servers.
Brave ad matching happens in the user client device. The data is stored in the device the user is using instead of centralized servers. A ZKP signal or token is used to verify the user. After the user is verified, Brave servers send a catalogue containing a large list of ads to the client. The client browser picks ads from the catalogue based on the preferences of the user and shows them when he visits a website. Let me clear it up with an example:
Suppose a Brave Browser user installed the Browser on his computer. Then he enabled Brave Ads so that he can support websites and earn a little beer money. When he enables Brave Ads, the browser will start keeping records of his actions he performs when he is using the Browser. All of his actions such as websites he visits, things he likes, things he buys online etc. are stored in his computer in the appdata folder of Brave Browser.
Brave uses a technology called Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP) to verify what kind of data a specific user has stored in his appdata folder. ZKP can verify the authenticity of the user and his data without accessing his data and sending them to Brave’s servers. This is a new privacy technology that is used in the cryptocurrency ZCash. Learn more about ZKP here (you may also read ZKP on Wikipedia).
After verifying the user, Brave will download a catalogue of Ads from its server. The browser's client side matching system will pick the most relevant ad from the catalogue. Brave will use machine learning to learn about behavioral patterns to ensure that the ad is shown at a time when it will have the highest effect. In simple words, Brave will try to show the ads at a time when the user is most likely to engage with the ad or pay attention to the ad.
For example, when you finish reading this article, you will be more likely to engage with an ad at the bottom of this webpage. But if you are in the middle of reading this article, you might skip ads if they appeared on the sidebar or as a pop up. Brave is able to do this because its ad matching happens client side. The Browser software has enough information about the user to time the ads when the user is using the Browser but not doing something very important.
Thanks for reading and I hope I was able to properly explain how Brave Ads will work. If you have any questions about this article, write it in the comments section.