My experience with Brave Browser

2019-07-24

I recently got asked about my experience with the Brave Browser by a colleague thinking of making the switch from Chrome. Well, I figured I’d share that experience here as a blog post for you all to read as well!

Brave Browser was forked from the Chromium project and stripped of everything communicating back home to mother Google. It also has an amazing ad blocker on by default the second you start using the browser.

The new tab screen does a great job reminding you how much time you’ve saved by using the browser and how many ads and trackers it has blocked to date.

Brave Stats

If you’re a developer, you’ll find the developer console to be familiar as it’s the same as Chrome and Chromium’s developer console.

If you’re addicted to Chrome extensions, they’re all compatible with Brave browser which is brilliant.

The browser also feels faster and snappier than Chrome and Firefox simply because it does block all of the trackers and ads by default. It is especially great on mobile.

Really there’s not much to like. The one criticism with the browser isn’t even something that is on by default, it’s a feature you need to opt-in for. That feature is Brave Ads.

What?! Ads are a feature now!?

This is where the Brave Browser project starts to get a little confusing and some may say overly ambitious, but hey they have to make money somehow.

So by default, the browser strips the ads from any given site. Then, if you so choose, you can opt-in to see Brave’s native ads which you and the site get a cut. That’s right, you’re paid to view Brave Ads. No, not in dollars but in Brave’s native cryptocurrency called BAT, which is short for Basic Attention Token.

Are Brave Ads a good deal for all parties? Is it truly a win/win/win?

I turned Brave Ads on shortly after it was launched and started earning BAT immediately. I think I was averaging about $15/mo worth of BAT from the get-go. I’ve yet to actually see any of the BAT since I refuse to sign-up with Upwork. I would like to simply send my BAT to an external Ethereum wallet but that is not yet possible.

After viewing the ads for about 2 months, I’ve decided to turn them off. I honestly found them annoying and the payback really wasn’t worth putting up with this annoyance IMO. The ads also weren’t very targeted. I wasn’t really interested in any of the products or services being sold through the ads. I know it’s early but this isn’t a good sign so far. I personally find search ads to be more targeted and less annoying because they’re only presented to me when I’m performing a search and looking for a solution.

Which brings me to my second point.

I don’t think Brave Ads will generate that good of an ROI for the advertiser simply because it’s less targeted and the ad viewer is not actively searching for a solution to a problem when they see the ad. The same could be said for Facebook Advertising though and they’ve been known to generate good results for some businesses.

I think it just all depends on what you’re advertising. I think products that lend themselves to being ‘impulse purchases’ may do well.

Okay Steve, what about content creators, they’re not being paid for their work with the existing system.

Just because you’re not tipping them in BAT doesn’t mean you can’t tip them. I would prefer the tip just be Bitcoin or perhaps Monero.

Also, 3rd party advertisements are not the only way to monetize your content. It’s probably not even the best way.

Look at TheOatmeal for example. He’s a content creator that is getting paid. No, not from 3rd party advertisements or Paetron subscribers. He’s selling merch and the last I read he was making $500k/year selling his merchandise.

But Facebook & Google track its users Steve! You shouldn’t support those ad networks!

If people are going to willingly offer their data to use a free product and it gets great results for the advertiser, what’s the issue? Brave can’t count on advertisers to be altruistic, they’re going to use whatever platform generates a better ROI.

As for the user, most have shown not to value online privacy very much, otherwise, people would be ditching Facebook & Google in droves. This hasn’t happened yet though. It’s clear they value these free services more than they value their online privacy. This could always change of course but it doesn’t seem likely.

In Brave’s perfect world, however, everybody will use their browser and the Google & Facebook ads would be blocked by default. The only ads that would be visible would be Brave Ads, if you opt-in of course. In that case, Brave Ads would be the main advertising channel. It will be interesting to see how this space plays out.

I, of course, have yet to try advertising with Brave Ads because the self-service option is not yet available. It will be interesting to see how the ads perform compared to say a Google Search Ad campaign or Facebook Ad campaign.

At the end of the day, competition is good and anybody that brings it to Facebook & Google is doing us all a service.

So would I recommend Brave Browser? Absolutely! It’s truly the best browser out there right now. The only real competitor in my opinion, is the Dissenter Browser. Dissenter basically forked Brave Browser and stripped it of all the BAT stuff and Brave Ads stuff, which I personally like.