Internet advertising is both a curse and a blessing. It's frequently an annoyance to consumers, who complain about ads popping up all over their favorite sites. But it's also a blessing in that it pays the bills to support those sites, which would most likely not exist without the revenue from ads.
One solution a lot of consumers have adopted is ad-blocking. A simple app or browser extension is all that's needed to block most ads from appearing on your smartphone or laptop. But ad-blocking, if it becomes widespread, threatens to kill free content on the web.
Brendan Eich wants to change all that. He sees a brave new world that uses his new browser, called Brave. It blocks "regular" ads and inserts its own ads, funneling revenue from those ads both to the website that's being viewed and to the consumer who's doing the viewing.
It's a guilt-free way to block ads, in other words.
Not born yesterday
Will it work?
With his tiny, 10-person start-up in San Francisco, Eich is setting off to change the world by improving privacy protection, building a faster browser, and blocking those nasty ads.
It's not just intrusive ads Eich is out to eliminate but also the tracking that underlies today's advertising infrastructure. When you see an ad for running shoes, chances are it's because you have conducted searches for running shoes, purchased running shoes, or frequented websites that deal with fitness and sports.
Lots of people hate being stalked by marketers in that way. If Eich has his way, it won't happen anymore. His ads won't be based on personal profiles, he says.
"We have to disconnect the bad system. I talk about putting chlorine in the pool," he said, according to CNET.
Eich also promises his browser will be faster -- up to four times faster than other smartphone browsers and 1.4 times faster than other laptop browsers.
A pre-release version of Brave is making the rounds today. When a public version is ready, Eich promises it will work on all major operating systems.
Whether publishers, advertisers, and consumers will get on board is the big question. The advertising industry is concerned by the growth of ad-blocking and is openly looking for new models. Many publishers, on the other hand, are relatively happy with the current system, having built their sites around catering to behavioral ads. They may be reluctant to change.