February 24, 2016 - Comments Off on What’s all the fuss about Brave browser?

What’s all the fuss about Brave browser?

A new browser has emerged into the digital world and has slowly been picking up quite a bit of attention. It’s generally quite hard for new browsers to make a noticeable impact online due to the popularity of rivals like; Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera to name a few.

There are two main selling points that come with Brave: the first is speed, and second is the ability to block advertisements on any website you visit. Whilst this is nothing new, it still raises quite a few interesting questions.

Does speed really make a difference?

With modern connection speeds now progressing to a point where content can be received almost instantly, it’s often hard to tell how much difference your browser is actually making. After playing around with the Brave beta version I noticed some subtle speed increases on Windows. Nothing that would make me want to switch browsers but it’s a step in the right direction. Brave does boast an impressive difference between an iOS vanilla version of Safari and an iOS vanilla version of Brave as seen here…

How does the ad-blocking work?

According to PageFair, 198 million people actively use ad-blocking extensions with their chosen browsers, so how is Brave any different to that?

Rather than having to download some form of extension or add-on, Brave incorporates its very own ad-blocking software into the application. You’re presented with three options for control over ad-blocking; replace ads, block ads or allow ads and tracking. Replacing ads changes them to make them more relevant to the user’s private browsing data and are capable of displaying without affecting the speed. One big problem I found with using add-ons and extensions from other browsers was the overall browser speed was greatly affected. Brave seems to counter that problem and outperforms all the others I tested.

Braves custom ad-blocking options

Brave’s custom ad-blocking options

What’s the drawback then?

So far, Brave sounds brilliant but there are some significant issues that could halt its progression. Brave currently doesn’t support Flash player and by the looks of it they don’t have any plans on introducing it – Firefox and Chrome are also phasing out support. Since a massive amount of websites still rely on Flash, despite its declining position, it’s still difficult to rule it out. It means that websites like 4oD and Twitch, which both run on flash, are practically unusable.

Brave’s ad-blocking software can be a little intensive at times, often confusing bits of code or content as adverts. From playing around with Brave there have been quite a few occasions where CSS code has been blocked due to its file name. Without the necessary CSS code it leaves sections of website appearing broken and non-functional.
The only work-around for the above issues is to disable the ad-blocking software all together. This can then become rather inconvenient and time-consuming.

What’s going to change for digital marketing?

If you’ve ever delved deep into your chosen analytics package the majority of websites will see a dominance of Chrome, Safari, Firefox and IE (in that order), but is that all about to change? Initially I think not, however the ad platforms will certainly be keeping a close eye.
Brave state they will take a 15% share in the revenue generated by the ads. Whilst this on its own doesn’t cause an issue, there is the bigger picture to consider:

  • Analytics and tracking packages will be blocked in Brave by default (this setting can be changed), therefore we might not ever see the Brave browser data in Google analytics, users will be excluded from heat mapping tools like Hotjar and similarly with AB testing platforms like VWO.
  • Ad platforms, like Google AdWords, will lose ad revenue due to Brave. I’m sure the team at Mountain View won’t be over the moon about that!
  • Additionally, any remarketing and retargeting activity will be lost, so that ad about those shoes you nearly bought at Office will stop following you around – is this a good thing? It depends if Brave’s ads are even more relevant than a product you were previously browsing.
  • Many of the media publisher’s business model rely on ads therefore that news site you visit every day, which does have some annoying ads, will potentially cease to exist if all ads are blocked.

It’s early days, and the increase in speed is great – as such, Brave does need to be taken seriously. These guys have come from Firefox and know a thing or two about browsers.

In summary

It’s important to note that currently there is no official release for Brave as it’s only operating under development builds for now. Brave’s reputation up to this point largely stems from founder Brendan Eich. Brendan was the creator of the programming language JavaScript and also a co-founder of the Mozilla project who released the popular Firefox browser. Although Brave has caused quite the stir, many still remain unconvinced that Brave will deliver on its promise of a seamless ad-free browsing experience. Even if Brave does fail in the long-run, something this idealistic and ambitious is certainly worth a watch.