Monthly Archives: January 2016

Brendan Eich Takes on Ads

Branden Eich is famous for his part in rewriting the Web; his creation of JavaScript, the world’s most used programming language, ended Internet Explorer’s web browser monopoly and opened the door for other browsers to proliferate and change the way people experienced the internet.

His first browser was Mozilla Firefox, but he stepped down from his position as the CEO of Mozilla in 2014 amid loud criticisms of his donations to same-sex marriage ban initiatives in California. Now he’s working on his next browser project: Brave.

Brave is a startup dedicated to developing a browser that changes how internet ads are published and paid for. The browser would block advertisements and attempts to track user data, but replace those advertisements with ads that are less intrusive and use less of a device’s computing resources to run. Advertising revenue will go to site owners and users themselves; publishers would be getting 55 percent of the revenue generated by the ad, which trumps the percentage they get from more established advertising networks. The company advertising would then pay its own advertising network partners 15 percent and keep 15 percent for itself. The final 15 percent would flow back into the browser users’ pockets, though I don’t really get how.¬†Users could opt out of ads altogether by donating to their favorite websites.

The idea behind Brave is to give more power to web users, who are just beginning to be able to make real decisions about their surfing experience based on the browser they choose. If Brave is a success, it will be the first browser to show so much respect for an internet user’s privacy. For now, every time you load a page you’re opting into whatever policies an ad network has in place.¬†“…so we invert this power structure and have the browser be an important part of the system instead of this passive window,” explained Eich.

That said, Eich isn’t out to eliminate internet advertising by any means. He understands that the internet cannot function without its main source of funding, and that ad-blocking software could create major funding issues for a lot of websites.

“Most people aren’t ready to pay for their content,” Eich claimed. “Some aren’t well off enough to pay for subscriptions, some don’t know how or don’t want to trust their credit card to a paywall…They like free-riding, or even starting a war.”

“You may never click on an ad, but even forming an impression from a viewable ad has some small value. With enough people blocking ads, the Web’s main funding model is in jeopardy.”

Brave hopes to allow those who prefer to not see ads still support sites through donations, allowing for those websites losing out on advertising funding to be funded directly by their users. Everyone else can support sites by viewing ads that Eich hopes will be “more relevant, less intrusive, and not so creepy” as the status quo.

Brave claims that if it shares data it finds, it will always by anonymized and that it cannot be shared without the user opting in.