Dow Jones Turns to Blockchain for Digital Publishing

Dow Jones Media teams up with Brave to explore the usage of blockchain technology in digital advertising and publishing

by Marin Marinov
18 April • 2.5 min
In News

Dow Jones Media has signed a partnership deal with blockchain technology start-up Brave Software to test the latter’s publishing platform and ad-blocking browser, the crypto company said in a press release on Wednesday.

The partnership entails testing of Brave’s digital advertising platform and its Basic Attention Token (BAT) across Dow Jones’s financial publications Barron`s and MarketWatch for a limited number of users who download Brave ad-blocker.  BAT is an ongoing project that aims to block original advertisements and replace them with own ones in an attempt to offer an alternative revenue model for both digital publishers and advertisers. Brave’s ad-blocking browser is operational and claims to have more than two million users.  

“Our partnership with Brave is an exciting and innovative step for Dow Jones Media Group,” Daniel Bernard, senior vice president of Barron’s, said in a statement.  “As global digital publishers, we believe it is important to continually explore new and emerging technologies that can be used to build quality customer experiences,” Bernard added.

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Brave blockchain platform

Brave, a blockchain-based start-up of Mozilla’s former CEO Brendan Eich, became popular in the crypto world last year when its initial coin offering (ICO) raised USD 35 million for less than 30 seconds. The funding will be used for Brave`s BAT platform.

Eich wants to create a type of browser and publishing system that is built on a decentralized network, according to the project`s whitepaper. The browser blocks advertisements and trackers, like cookies, and claims to protect privacy and personal data as well as to stop malicious software like malware.

The project is, however, under criticism because it aims  to replace blocked ads with own paid messages when BAT publishing platform is launched. Publishers, advertisers and readers will be allowed to register and make deals without third parties, namely Facebook and Google as defined in the whitepaper. Users will be able to allow brief advertisements and will be paid for this with Brave’s token BAT. At the same time the system will enable own advertisements that will be available only on partner websites, the so-called verified partners like Dow Jones’ media outlets. The shown paid messages will be only from Brave platform partners and original ads will continue to be blocked.

Brendan Eich`s browser has recently launched a beta version of its Brave Payment that allows readers to give rewards to their most frequently used sites in the form of cryptocurrency.

A U-turn in  strategy

In 2016, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), also part of Dow Jones, called Brave’s project “illegal”. In a letter signed by WSJ together with other leading US publishers such as The New York Times and Washington Post, the plan of blocking original advertisements and replacing them was  condemned:

“Your plan to use our content to sell your advertising is indistinguishable from a plan to steal our content to publish on your own website,” the joint letter stated.