Shortly after a year from cryptocurrency advertising being briefly banned from Google and Facebook, some marketers are now using crypto differently in a direct way as a payment to watch advertisements. Employing crypto’s like Bitcoin (BTC) and Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) as an incentive, marketers are now able to draw forth willing individuals to hear their ad’s message out while earning a reward in the process. Not for nothing though, marketers also utilize machine learning technology behind ad campaigns to collect people’s reactions in gathering accurate customer insight. Ads are now able to dive into uncharted territory with content tailor-made for individuals backed by an incentive.
A startup called HypeHop pays viewers in BTC to watch advertisement videos uploaded by marketers looking for crypto-savvy people willing to partake. However there is a catch, its machine learning “emotion-tracking system” watches the viewer’s eyes while the video plays. Using this tactic, HypeHop ensures the viewer does not cheat in earning the crypto. “People will absolutely sit and stare at their computer, pay attention to something, if rewarded for it,” John Biggs, Founder of HypeHop said. For 0.02 BTC (about $71), marketers can post a video up to five minutes which can garner up to 100 paid views. Each view pays the user 0.0001 BTC (about 40 cents) with the remaining 0.01 BTC given back to HypeHop. Biggs launched the platform as an experiment to fix sponsored videos but he said the experiment succeeded, with nearly every video running out of paid views with an hour of being announced on Twitter and Reddit.
HypeHop’s “emotion-tracking system” not only watches the viewer’s eyes during the video, but also picks up emotion recognition to see how the ad was received. The point of the technology isn’t to make the user feel like they are being watched, it’s only to ensure the crypto is earned and how they felt, Biggs explained. ”Our privacy is already being taken away, why can’t we reward people to give this up?”
With an incentive for the viewer, marketers also have the ability to reach an audience of people intrigued to hear their message. Denis Serikov, a HypeHop user and CEO of Throne PR, a PR company specialized in Crypto and Blockchain startups, from New York, says he uses the platform because he sees potential in becoming a partner or investor to one of these emerging startups and to learn something new. He said the company’s technology “may be invasive but we have cameras everywhere, this is the new reality we live in,” and noted that he isn’t bothered by privacy concerns. Crypto and Blockchain backed startups account for the majority of videos uploaded to HypeHop, with industries ranging from manufacturing to coin mining to social media.
Another company utilizing similar techniques is Internet Browser provider Brave, who recently announced Brave Rewards which lets users opt in to earn BAT (Basic Attention Tokens) by viewing advertisements while on the web. The company uses local machine learning technology to serve relevant ads based on browsing history, while blocking out unwanted content by third-parties to appear on the web. Once viewed, the user receives 70% of the gross ad revenue in BAT while the remaining 30% goes back to Brave. “What we’re trying to create is the world’s first global private ad network that doesn’t require user tracking and rewards the user for attention,” said Brave’s Director of Business Development Luke Mulks. “Creating this opt-in experience, we’re providing an authentic audience for advertisers and brands than they typically get by throwing money at the wall to see what sticks.”
BAT is based on Ethereum blockchain technology that accounts on directly connecting the advertiser, publisher and user—thus cutting out third-party intermediaries. “We are designed to work with the user as opposed to working away from the user,” Mulks explained. Once BAT is earned, users have to option to “tip” tokens back to their favorite content publishers (i.e. YouTube creators, Twitch streamers) in return for premium content and services. Not only does Brave want to reward users for their attention but also introduce them to new brands.
The token is set up in a single directional system, meaning it cannot be withdrawn into digital wallets for personal use outside of Brave’s network, only to give back to publishers. This model may change in the future, the company says, where users may withdraw BAT into a digital wallet. Brave CEO Brendan Eich previously commented that he “would not be surprised if our users can make $70/year as we bring the system up in 2019,” giving hope that BAT’s value could rise and be utilized further. BAT is also being used in a new model through Coinbase Earn where users can watch videos about Brave’s technology and in return earn $10 worth of the crypto token.
Even though its technology may tap into an individual’s privacy, advertising now has the potential to work hand in hand with users through personalized, relevant ad selections instead of third-parties turning on a fire hose of ads completely insignificant to their interests. Rewarding users with crypto is not only in their favor, but also incentivizes the ad to be taken with eyes prepared to hear out the message. More often than not, when given the option to skip an ad on a YouTube video, people will skip but implementing a crypto incentive for viewing ads may eliminate this action. With “Attentive Marketing”, as HypeHop’s John Biggs calls it, the goal is to reward the user instead of taking something away from them. “I understand we are in a surveillance society, but we’re giving up so much to all these third-party services by clicking a link and followed through the internet. Let’s give the user back a little bit of agency.”