Advertising signs at Time's Square


Is Basic Attention Token Demanding Too Much?

Joseph Argiro
02 December, 2018
2 min read

As a millennial in today’s digital world, you probably find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram on a daily basis. Hell, you can even track your activity nowadays with the iPhone’s new "Screen Time" feature in settings. By doing this, we allow Facebook and Google to sell advertisements to companies looking to get their product in front of users. In fact, Google and Facebook take 73% of all advertisement dollars. Essentially, you're getting screwed, and your time is being indirectly sold to digital marketers. But what if there was a way for users to monetize this browsing time?

Enter Basic Attention Token. This token operates within a new browser called Brave, which anonymously monitors user attention, and rewards publishers and consumers with the BAT token. Cutting out the large tech enterprises, the system directly rewards the publishers for their content. This allows for a more efficient advertising environment for both the consumer and the advertisers.

A True Utility Token

The basic attention token’s utility is a direct monetization of a user’s time and/or mental engagement. For example, with BAT, a user’s time spent looking at a Facebook ad can be directly tokenized into a tradable asset. This gives the BAT token intrinsic value, since it is directly tied to user engagement, something advertisers are willing to pay for. The token can then be used to purchase premium content from publishers, and can also be donated. However, the token is only a means to obtain services on the BAT platform – the market will decide if these have any real-world value.


The team is clearly talented; the founders have created JavaScript and browsers such as Mozilla and Firefox. The company is backed by world-class VCs, such as Pantera Capital and the Founders Fund.


Token Economics and Roadmap

BAT has a relatively clear roadmap when it comes to incentivizing developer and user adoption. Three hundred million tokens have been set aside in a user growth pool, while 66.35 million is held in a development pool with a 180-day lockup period. BAT plans to reward users with BAT tokens immediately when they download the Brave browser. It is still unclear how the development pool of tokens will be utilized. The current circulating supply sits at 1.18 billion tokens, with a total supply of 1.5B.

Browser Switching Cost

It will likely be a very difficult and expensive task for the BAT team to incentivize users to jump ship in favor of the Brave browser. People seem to be very attached to their preferred browser. Why would one start from scratch to adopt a new browser? This requires people to learn how a new browser works, and spend time to re-setup preferences to their liking. The average user likely does not care that the Brave browser is privacy focused and blocks malvertisements. The incentives will have to be extremely compelling for the average user to adopt the Brave browser. However, BAT has stated that due to the open source nature of the project, the token could eventually be supported in popular browsers.

The Brave browser does have a porting function to import one’s preferences from popular browsers such as Chrome or Safari, similar to the way EOS and other smart contract platforms are making it relatively easy to switch ERC20 Dapps off of the Ethereum chain. A seamless import function could be the key to mass adoption; that is something I could get behind. Besides the import tool, or support for BAT within popular browsers, what are the magic words in order to facilitate mass adoption?

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