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Advertising on Brave, a Privacy-First Browser


Digital Marketing / January 06, 2022

We’re really lucky to have Donny Dvorin, VP Head of Sales at Brave, joining us for today’s episode. Brave is a privacy-first browser that’s been getting a lot of traction lately. Donny is here to tell us more about Brave and let us know what makes it different from other browsers.

How is Brave different from other browsers?

I like to think of it as two sides: from the consumer angle, and from an advertising/marketing angle.

From a consumer angle, it’s a lightning-fast browser because we strip out all the trackers, pixels and third-party cookies. 

And, when you strip that all out, you actually strip out all of the advertising too.

That’s the second thing, it’s a really fast browser with no programmatic ads, video ads or takeover type ads that really slow you down. Number three, we are a privacy browser and then number four is that consumers can opt-in advertising and actually earn cryptocurrency for viewing the ads that we serve. 

From an advertising perspective, we reach a very unique audience. And, 70% of all the ad dollars go back into the user’s hands. There’s a whole economic model that works for brands and for advertising. We are basically giving users control of their advertising experience.

Why don’t you tell us about yourself and how you got started at Brave?

I started in the advertising industry about 20 years ago and I got really interested in the intersection of blockchain and advertising back in 2017. And, in 2017 no one was really talking about blockchain. I went to go see a presentation by a guy named Jeremy Epstein and he was talking about the fact that today, more and more users are going to want control over their data and their advertising experience. One company that just kept on coming up was Brave and I got really close with the team. I told them “if there’s ever an opportunity to join in some type of sales capacity, even like a seller, I would jump at the opportunity” and then I got the call. Do you want to be head of sales? I said absolutely.

I joined the company two and a half years ago and it’s been awesome. When I joined, we had five million users using the browser, today we just crossed over 46 million users. We’re about to get over 50 million users. Back then, we were in the tens of thousands of dollars in ad sales, now we’re in the millions of dollars of ad sales. It’s growing really really fast.

As that cryptocurrency conversation gets louder Brave also kind of gets louder with it, but I guess it hasn’t always been that way. What is the history of this browser?

Our founder is a gentleman by the name of Brendan Eich, and he reached out to the co-founder Brian Bondy. 

Brendan actually has a great history. He wrote JavaScript when he was younger in the 90s and then he went on to co-found Mozilla Firefox. About six years ago, we basically saw that privacy was going to be a big deal within the browsers and he came up with the idea of a 100% privacy-focused browser. He worked on the whole economic model: how do you give users back money. Originally, they wanted to give money back in bitcoin, but it was too expensive. So, in 2017, there was a token offering and it gave users the ability to buy basic attention tokens which is the currency that we use to reward users for their attention.

What does Brave’s audience look like?

It’s a really different audience, we call them the unreachables. 

Brave users use Brave 75% of the time when they are browsing and, when they’re not using our browser, they’re using an ad blocker. They’re not seeing ads when they’re on Chrome or Safari. 50% of them use Facebook often so they’re not seeing a lot of the Facebook type of advertising either. A lot of them are not on TikTok, Reddit, and Twitter and 80% of our audience are cord-cutters so they’re not watching tv ads either. There are 46 million people that are really really hard to reach if you’re not reaching them with the Brave browser, which is why we call them “The Unreachables”. 

This audience is predominantly male and they are very much into personal finance and cryptocurrencies. Three-quarters of them have bought or traded some type of crypto in the past three quarters. That means that they have disposable income, so it’s a lucrative audience.

Do you think this audience in particular is more inherently interested in privacy or in cryptocurrency?

I really think there’s both. I think that there are privacy-centric people that are out there and they want a privacy browser, others have been trading crypto and they want to earn some extra tokens using Brave. If you’re gonna be surfing the Internet and you’re gonna be doing a lot of stuff with crypto you might as well use Brave. They can do trades right on the browser so there’s a lot of advantages for a crypto user.

How does Brave’s solution for privacy compare with what some of the other big tech companies are offering? 

It seems like other browsers are getting on the privacy bandwagon after the GDPR and CCPA. We had privacy from the get-go. We are built for privacy from the ground up and it’s part of our ethos. 

When you’ve already built something and then you want to add privacy to it, it’s really hard. 

What place can advertising take in a privacy-first browser?

The matching gets done on the device level. If you are doing a lot of searches, you’re browsing, you’re buying stuff, that data is all stored on your computer, within the browser but that data never goes back to Brave.

What we do is, we take the ad catalog for our push notifications and every couple of hours we push the ad catalog down to the browser and the matching gets done on the browser level instead of up in the cloud where everybody can see what you searched and purchased.

The key difference is where we’re doing the matches which keeps it very private.

As far as ad units, we have a push notification unit that looks like a calendar invite or any other standard notification. We have a sponsored image which is when you hit the new tab button, the whole page is sponsored by an advertiser. You can think of it as a homepage takeover, but it doesn’t like overlay or push-down content, it’s just a beautiful image on the new tab.

We also just launched something called Brave news. There’s an unlimited private news feed and within the news feed, there are ads that are targeted to you. Think of it as native ad units. 

If you want to reach everyone or close to everyone you’ll use those display units and if you want to reach people in a more engaging way, you’ll want those push notifications. They get, on average, a 9% click-through rate. The sponsored images are going to be more brand-focused. 

How does Brave measure conversions?

A lot of advertisers use UTM parameters in the URL to track metrics. We have a beautiful dashboard that allows you to see metrics like impressions and clicks. We also have our own proprietary measurement like the 10-second visit rates (the number of users who clicked on an ad and spent more than 10 seconds on a page). With order IDs or conversion IDs advertisers can see exactly which orders came from Brave.

What types of industries could benefit from advertising on Brave?

Anything that’s targeting males is a good fit for the browser, anything in the financial services category, automobile, travel, gaming is also huge for us. 

Looking ahead, in the next five to ten years, what does online privacy look like?

I think that everything we do online will be private. There’s just no way about it. All the companies are moving that way. Your iPhone is much more private than it ever was.

Nowadays, when using a smart TV you have to sign in, give your data away. Peloton, Stereo, all of these things aren’t private today and might be some of the worst offenders out there. Connected objects like those will all become private in the future. 

How are users going to approach the Internet? Are we going to be privacy-first or will we still want the level of personalization that trackers allow?

In 10 years there won’t be cookies anymore. Everything that you do online will be private and so I don’t think users will have to make a decision between one or the other. 

Marketers will just have to adapt. There will be different ways to track users and we’ll need to figure it out.

A big thank you to Donny Dvorin for participating in this interview. For additional information concerning Brave, reach out to him on LinkedIn or email [email protected] Also, take a look at Brave’s podcast “The Brave Marketer” here.

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Marie-Joëlle Turgeon

Marie-Joelle works at Bloom, a digital marketing agency, as the Director of Marketing. She's passionate about digital marketing tactics (from social media to web design) for B2B businesses looking to grow online.


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