Finally, all your pithy tweets and insightful Reddit posts could pay off.
Brave, the ad-blocking browser startup trying to rewrite the rules of online advertising, sends payments today to website publishers, YouTube stars and Twitch videogame streamers. Now it plans to extend that system to people who post on Twitter and Reddit.
Brave plans to add Reddit and Twitter support for the fourth quarter of the year, the company said Tuesday.
Don't expect to retire in splendor as a result of your 280-character witticisms, though. Brave users have to specifically enable the payment system before any of Brave's basic attention token (BAT) crypto-tokens change hands. And BAT payments from Brave users will come only when those users actively decide your Twitter or Reddit is worth something.
"The model will be tipping -- a user likes a tweet and can give BAT to the tweeter, and optionally tweet back that he tipped," the company said. Reddit will get a similar tipping mechanism.
Even if it doesn't shower you with wealth, the idea is interesting. Sites like Reddit and Twitter depend on your content for their financial success. You get an interesting and potentially useful service out of all that activity -- but you're more likely to see ads than a cut of the proceeds. Brave is trying to steer some of the value of the site to a population essential to its success.
Payments to websites, Twitchers and YouTubers are more automated for those who have the BAT payments enabled in Brave. By default, those payments are sent proportionally to how often Brave users load the relevant website. So it's a lot more lucrative if you're already an internet celebrity with millions of followers.
Rethinking online advertising
Brave is trying to change how online advertising works by using BAT to pay for people's attention on the web. In the company's vision, BAT payments can flow in different directions: from a user to a publisher to pay for premium content, for example, or from an advertiser to a publisher that shows an ad. Brave ultimately hopes it won't be the only browser or app that supports the setup, but so far, the BAT ecosystem is young.
Today, BAT payments are funded by promotional infusions of BAT that Brave offers to anyone using Brave or by BAT that you can buy yourself. If you opt into the system, Brave each month sends BAT to the websites you visit -- as long as they've signed up to receive them. A few, like the Guardian and Washington Post, have done so, but mostly it's a rarity for big names on the net.
Today, Brave has more than 20,000 verified publishers on board to receive BAT: about 13,500 YouTube channels, 5,300 websites and 1,100 Twitch streamers, the company said. It wouldn't reveal how much in BAT payments its 3.25 million monthly active users send to those verified publishers, but it said the sum is growing each month.
Publishers can convert BAT into ordinary money automatically. If they haven't signed up to receive payments, the BAT eventually flows back to the user growth pool Brave established to promote the BAT payments system.
In November, Brave expanded BAT payments to YouTubers. And in March, it added people who stream videogame play over Twitch to the program. It's also set up a referral system so publishers and content generators can get BAT for recruiting new Brave users. The referral system will work with Twitter and Reddit, too, Brave said.
The longer-term plan is to top up Brave users' BAT wallets through advertising. It's just begun testing an advertising system in which the browser itself will target ads based on its assessment of your interests. The plan is for website publishers and advertisers to be able to reach a desired audience without being able to track your personal details and behavior.
Brave users get a share of ad revenue
Anyone who sees Brave-placed ads will get a portion of the revenue from the advertiser. It's an opt-in system, so by default Brave won't show any ads. But those who do opt in should be able to receive BAT they can then send back to other website publishers to support their operations. The distributed database technology called blockchain handles the accounting under the covers.
Online advertising has been good and bad for the web. It's enabled the fast growth of companies like Google and Facebook, but it's also resulted in an industry where publishers and advertisers track you around the web and profile your behavior. And on top of the privacy problems, ads and the accompanying tracking software slow down websites and burn through your battery life faster.
Subscriptions are increasingly common, used by publishers including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wired, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. But most people aren't likely to subscribe to lots of publications.
BAT, if it works as Brave envisions, could offer a way to fulfill the ages-old dream of micropayments, an easy way to pay a small amount for some premium content.
Blockchain Decoded: CNET looks at the tech powering bitcoin -- and soon, too, a myriad of services that will change your life.
CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.