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Brave releases 1.0 of new privacy-focused browser and private ad network

In mid-2015, JavaScript inventor and Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich launched Brave Software to develop a new, privacy-focused browser. Today, after three years of beta versions, Brave is releasing 1.0 of its new browser (available at Brave’s web site, Google Play and the App Store), along with a browser-focused ad platform that, if successful, could dramatically reshape online advertising.

The browser, the company said, already has more than eight million monthly active users worldwide.

‘Surveillance capitalism’

Brave said the free browser, available for desktop computers and mobile devices, loads pages three to six times faster than other browsers because it is not loading third-party delivered ads or their related tracking. For mobile users concerned about data charges, Brave says its browser loads substantially less data.

“Surveillance capitalism has plagued the Web for far too long,” Eich said in a statement, “and we’ve reached a critical inflection point where privacy-by-default is no longer a nice-to-have, but must-have.”

By default, the browser blocks trackers, browser “fingerprinting,” malware, third-party cookies, auto-play ads and what the company describes as “invasive ads” – ones delivered by third-party servers, such as ad networks. Additionally, embedded plugins are disabled by default.

Ads delivered by a web site’s own server, Chief Product Officer David Temkin told ClickZ, are not blocked, so individual web sites could still track their own visitors using first-party cookies.

Browser-based machine learning

Temkin said users going to a site that shows ads provided by third-party servers will see blank spaces where those ads would have been.

The user will also see small notifications within the browser that are linked to ads delivered directly through Brave’s private network to the browser. A click on the small window showing the ad link then leads a full page display for that ad. Temkin said the Brave private ad network delivers high clickthrough rates averaging 14 percent.

The browser contains its own machine learning that infers interests from the content and type of web pages visited by the user, grouped by IAB ad categories. While this resembles the profiles built by third-party profiles, Temkin said, the difference is that the interest profile is created and restricted to the user’s own browser, and is not made available to, say, data management platforms or other networks. Brave says it won’t store user interest data on its servers or sell the data to others.

So, if a user has recently visited three car-related sites, for instance, the browser will select car-related ads to show in the browser, from a list of all ads available in the Brave network. A typical ad load is two per hour, although a user can customize that anywhere from zero to five per hour. The machine learning can also be guided by users clicking “more ads like this” or “fewer ads like this” after each displayed ad.

Retargeting, BAT

One of the most common user complaints about online ads is retargeting. If you visit a web page selling hiking boots, for instance, you might see ads for hiking boots for days or weeks after.

Temkin said that retargeting of ads is possible with the Brave browser, given that it will show ads related to perceived interests, but that there is logic and frequency caps to limit how many retargeted ads from a given interest category are shown. A user can also dial down that interest category by clicking “fewer ads like this.” To this point, Brave said, it has delivered nearly 475 ad campaigns from such brands as Intel and Pizza Hut.

The Brave private ad platform, built on blockchain protocol, returns 70 percent of the revenue from the ads to users and 30 percent to Brave. The user revenue is stored in what the company calls a Basic Attention Tokens or BAT wallet, which can be converted into crypto-currency, sovereign currency like dollars or online rewards.

The user can then cash in those credits, which Temkin said generally average about $5 monthly. The user can also optionally “pay” specific web site publishers with BAT credits, in appreciation of their content or other services. Brave says there are currently about 300,000 websites or creators on YouTube and other environments who are prepared to received BAT credits, and that, to date, it has delivered single-digit “millions of dollars” to content owners.

The post Brave releases 1.0 of new privacy-focused browser and private ad network appeared first on ClickZ.

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