Brave: New Ad Blocking Browser Promises More Privacy & Faster Page Loading
Depending on whom you talk to, ad blocking is either overblown or an emerging crisis. There’s data to support both positions. One thing is clear, however: it’s an issue that’s not going away. That’s partly because entrepreneurs have now latched onto it as an opportunity. The latest example is a new mobile browser called Brave. […]
That’s partly because entrepreneurs have now latched onto it as an opportunity. The latest example is a new mobile browser called Brave. It’s still in beta and not yet widely available, but it will be soon.
Brave speeds up page loading by blocking ads and tracking technologies: cookies, pixels, fingerprinting and scripts. Yet Brave isn’t entirely hostile to advertising. It will have ads, just not those that “target ads based on browser-side intent signals phrased in a standard vocabulary, and without a persistent user ID or highly re-identifiable cookie.” In this way, Brave seeks to strike a balance between publishers, marketers and privacy.
In a post on the Brave site, Eich says he wants to “fix the web”:
At Brave, we’re building a solution designed to avert war and give users the fair deal they deserve for coming to the Web to browse and contribute. We are building a new browser and a connected private cloud service with anonymous ads… We keep user data out of our cloud Brave Vault by default. It’s better for you and us that we don’t store any of your data without your permission.
Thus we are a browser-based ad-tech platform, with high precision and privacy. What’s more, we aim to solve the Principal-Agent problem wherever it arises. Brave is 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.
Most display ads (and those from programmatic platforms/exchanges) will be blocked, though users can override the default settings. Search ads won’t be blocked because they’re “intent-based” and don’t rely on the same kinds of targeting that display ads do.
As I mentioned, the ad-blocking issue isn’t going away. This is true partly because its entrepreneurs believe they can improve the mobile user experience and make money at the same time by being ad intermediaries. The IAB sees this as a form of “extortion.” It’s also worth noting that Google’s AMP initiative is trying to get at the root causes of ad blocking, including page speed.
In general, ad blocking should be seen as a symbol of deeper frustration and user dissatisfaction with advertising. The paradox is that the tactics that publishers and marketers are using to try to improve the ad experience and ad relevance (Read: targeting) — what users seem to want — are the same tactics that companies such as Brave seek to disable.