'Brave' Browser from Mozilla Co-Founder Serves Anonymous Ads
The Internet introduced a brave new world for advertisers. Now, Brendan Eich, the co-founder of Mozilla is introducing a brave new browser to block ads, kind of. Dubbed Brave, the browser works by blocking ads by default and replacing those blocked ads with its own anonymous ads.
Brave Software, the company that makes the browser, will take a 15 percent cut of the ad revenue that's generated, 55 percent will go to the publisher, 15 percent to the ad supplier and 15 percent to the user, according to reports.
Eich (pictured above) said the new browser addresses what he calls a “primal threat” to the Web. Although some say “mobile” is the threat we should be concerned about, Eich argued that the Web is co-evolving with smartphones in a healthy way.
“I contend that the threat we face is ancient and, at bottom, human,” said Eich, CEO and president of Brave Software. “Some call it advertising, others privacy. I view it as the principal-agent conflict of interest woven into the fabric of the Web.”
Eich said consumers usually don’t pay for Web sites that host the information they read. A free Web is the expectation -- and free ultimately translates to online ads, he added.
“The principal (you) uses a browser (one of a layer of agents, both software and humans) to browse the Web and keep its lights on. Consider your primary agent, the browser,” Eich said. “It’s a complex piece of code, but now thanks to Mozilla, WebKit, Chromium, and even in part Microsoft, this billion-dollar investment is available as a mix of free and open source software.”
But there’s a catch: the introduction of tracking tools that monitor users' behaviors so that online advertising companies can target them with marketing. Those tracking tools are within the browser. App makers like Adblock Browser have launched software to block ads on smartphones while Adblock Plus, a desktop browser extension, lets users surf the Web without seeing ads. But Eich said if enough people block ads the Web’s main funding model is in jeopardy. Indeed, publishers rely on ads to pay staff to aggregate and produce content.
That's where Brave, a browser and connected private cloud service with anonymous ads, comes in, the company said. The browser is currently available in a developer version for early adopters and testers. Brave blocks everything, from programmatic ads to ad-click confirmation signals to impression-tracking pixels, then serves standard-size ads to the user without compromising privacy, according to the company.
Blocking Ad Trackers
Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insight at the Local Search Association, has been watching the debate evolve. He told us there’s a perception in the industry among some that there's a growing consumer appetite for ad blocking.
“There’s also the perception that ad-blocking adoption is one the rise,” Sterling said. “That's partly driven by perceptions of ad quality and clutter, especially on mobile, but also by privacy issues.”
The Brave browser sees everything users do but does not store user data in its cloud. Eich described Brave as a browser-based ad-tech platform, with high precision and privacy and the only approach to the Web that puts users first in ownership and control of their browsing data by blocking trackers by default, with no exceptions.
“In an effort to make ads more ‘relevant’ and effective increasingly sophisticated tracking and targeting methods are being used by marketers and platforms,” Sterling said. “That has some people concerned. In other cases, with some ad-blocking efforts, there's also a kind of cynical attempt to become a gatekeeper or intermediary between consumers and marketers.”