What is BAT? | Beginner’s Guide

What is BAT?

BAT (Basic Attention Token) is a blockchain-based digital advertising token based on Ethereum.

The mission of the BAT team is to fix the broken state of the current digital advertising space in which users are unknowingly tracked, publishers are having trouble monetizing content, and advertisers are constant victims to fraud.

BAT Home Page

Digital advertising revenue has quickly become monopolized by the two big kids on the block: Facebook and Google. These two companies alone receive 73% of all online ad dollars. The BAT team wants to change that.

BAT cuts out the middlemen from the advertising process. Users are paid for their attention watching ads, and publishers receive the majority of the ad revenue directly. Additionally, advertisers gain a better ROI and more accurate data to analyze using BAT.

In this BAT guide, I’m going to cover:

How does it work?

Currently, the only web browser able to use BAT is Brave – a browser created by the BAT development team. Their roadmap states that the BAT system will be integrated into other browsers and apps by the end of 2018.

Using smart contracts, advertisers send ads with a token payment in a locked state to users. When a user views the ad, they receive a portion of that token payment. The Brave browser also receives some of the token payment. The remainder of the payment is sent to the publisher who hosted the advertisement.

How BAT works

As a user, you can spend your BAT on several things in the browser including premium articles and products, donations to content providers, or high-resolution photos and data services. The BAT ecosystem may even expand to use BAT micropayments for comments and up/down voting in forums.

A system like this is advantageous for everyone in the digital advertising space.

  1. Users are able to surf the web privately again while monetizing their attention.
  2. Publishers can get back a good chunk of revenue previously lost to bots and middlemen.
  3.  Advertisers receive better data on the campaigns enabling them to target their messages more effectively. 

What is Brave?

Brave is an open-source web browser created by the BAT team. With a focus on privacy and speed, the browser blocks intrusive ads and trackers automatically. Even the leading ad blockers on traditional browsers let some advertisements and trackers monitor your behavior. Brave blocks them all.

Brave also upgrades every site that it can to use the HTTPS protocol adding an extra layer of security when you browse.

Brave Home The browser uses a background ledger system to anonymously track which sites and content you’re spending most of your time on so publishers can be paid accordingly.

Although your attention is constantly being measured, this information is completely anonymous, and your private information never leaves your device.

The Brave browser also tracks the attention you’ve devoted to an advertisement.

The Attention Value for each ad is calculated based on the incremental time the ad is in view and the number of ad pixels that are visible in proportion to relevant content.

Using machine learning on your Attention Value for different ads enables the Brave browser to serve up advertisements that are most relevant to what you’d want to see – a win for both users and advertisers. The team argues that their machine learning strategy creates content that’s more relevant than that of any third-party tracking systems can produce.   

Brave Ledger

Over 150 publishers have already partnered with BAT to join Brave Payments, the micro-payment service in the Brave browser. Some of the most notable publishers include Wikihow, Archive.org, and Smashing Magazine. Other partners are expected to be announced shortly.

I tried out Brave, and I’ve got to say, I’m probably going to make it my default browser from now on.

It might have been the placebo effect, but the browser felt fast – even faster than my current Chrome browser with Adblock enabled. It was also nice to have peace of mind as I surfed around the web knowing that I wasn’t being tracked by any third-party software.

Some BAT history

Officially announced in March of this year, the BAT platform is fairly young. The project had a successful token sale in May, raising $35 million in under 30 seconds.

The BAT team consists of some heavy hitters – one of the most notable being Brendan Eich, the founder and chief visionary. Brendan created Javascript (yes, that Javascript) and co-founded the Mozilla project leading to Firefox. If there’s anyone you want leading a new browser-based advertising company, it’s this guy.

Brendan Eich Tweet

The team is being advised by Zooko Wilcox, founder and CEO of Zcash, as well as Ankur Nandwani, product manager at Coinbase.

BAT is almost the only cryptocurrency project focusing on digital advertising. The only other company of note is AdEx which is also creating a decentralized ad exchange. The primary difference between the two is that AdEx has a focus on advertising (specifically on videos) while BAT is expanding beyond advertising to include premium content, publisher support, micro-donations, etc…

Coin Supply

At the time of this writing, there are 1 billion BAT tokens in circulation. An additional 200 million tokens are locked in a pool for product development, and 300 million tokens are part of the user growth pool (UGP).

Many popular cryptocurrencies use some form of mining (proof-of-work) or staking (proof-of-stake) to release additional coins into the ecosystem. BAT is different in this regard. Once the user growth pool is empty, no more tokens will be created.

The user growth pool will be used to incentivize people to participate in the BAT ecosystem. Early users of the Brave browser will receive up to 5 BAT/user with the requirement that they must be spent on the Brave platform. If you don’t use these BAT within 6 months, they’ll be taken from you and put back in the UGP to be distributed again.

Trading

The BAT token hit an all-time high of ~$0.327 (.00012950 Bitcoin) shortly after the ICO in June 2017. The token experienced that same fate seen by most of the crypto market and dropped until August. Since then, the price has remained fairly stagnant with a recent dip in October 2017.

Unlike other cryptocurrencies, the price of BAT doesn’t seem to be affected by product development milestones or partnership announcements. More or less, the price has generally followed the price of Bitcoin since July.

The team has explicitly stated that the BAT token is only meant to be used on the BAT platform. Although it’s traded on several exchanges, they don’t encourage or endorse this type of activity.

Where to buy BAT

You can purchase BAT as a trading pair with Bitcoin (BTC) on Bittrex, Binance, and Liqui. It’s also traded with Ethereum (ETH) on those platforms, but with significantly less volume.

To purchase BAT, I recommend that you first buy Bitcoin on either Gemini or GDAX. From there, transfer your Bitcoin to one of the platforms I listed about to exchange it for BAT.

Soon, you’ll be able to receive BAT by using the Brave browser. As an early adopter of the browser, you’ll receive an award of up to 5 BAT. Sometime in the beginning of 2018, you can begin to receive BAT for viewing ads as well.

For a full list of exchanges in which you can purchase BAT, visit CoinMarketCap.

Where to store BAT

As an ERC20 token, BAT can be stored in any ERC20 compatible wallet. MyEtherWallet is a great option to store your tokens and transfer them to a paper wallet.

If you’d like to store your BAT in a hardware wallet (something I highly recommend), the Ledger Nano S or Trezor hardware wallet works great as well.

Most importantly, you can store BAT in the Brave browser wallet. To do so, you first need to download and open Brave.

Navigate to the “Shields” tab at the top and select “Start using Brave payments…”

Brave Payments menu option

Click the on/off toggle to turn on your wallet and payment system.

Brave Payments Toggle Off

Your Brave Payments dashboard includes several pieces of useful information such as your account balance, when you’ll receive your next contribution, and what websites you’ve been spending most of your “attention” on.

Brave Payments Toggle On

Next, click on the “Add funds” button to transfer funds to your wallet. You’re able to transfer Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and of course, BAT. Any coin that you transfer that isn’t BAT will automatically be converted once it reaches your wallet.

Brave Payments Add Funds

Copy/paste your public wallet address or scan the QR code from the exchange to finalize your transfer.

Brave Wallet

My opinion

BAT is one of the few cryptos out there with a rockstar team, straightforward use-case, and working product. Even better, the leader of this whole project has already produced one awesome browser, Firefox, and has the relationships to implement BAT into the other already existing browsers.

As content continues to grow in importance on the web, BAT is going to shape the way that providers are rewarded. I firmly believe in the BAT team’s mission, and I am confident that they’re going to achieve everything they promise.

Additional resources

BAT FAQs

BAT Rocket Chat

BAT Twitter

BAT Medium

BAT Reddit

CoinCentral's owners, writers, and/or guest post authors may or may not have a vested interest in any of the above projects and businesses. None of the content on CoinCentral is investment advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified financial planner.

Steven Buchko

Steven is a managing editor at Coin Central and a blockchain investor. He's also the co-founder of Coin Clear, a mobile app that automatically turns your daily spending habits into cryptocurrency investments.