AMA with Luke Mulks

by Nov 5, 2020AMA, Community

Welcome to the latest post in our series of BAT Community-run AMAs!

The ongoing AMA series is an opportunity for our users and fans to get to know the Brave team, to chat with them directly, and to illuminate the work and contributions of our team members. (Work that, in many cases, takes place largely behind the scenes.)   

We were joined on October 7th by Luke Mulks, Director of Business Development at Brave, who spent the afternoon fielding both pre-submitted and live questions from the Community on Reddit. Questions spanned an array of topics, Brave’s approach to partnership-building, the company’s evolving revenue strategy, and its goal of over time becoming the favored portal to web3 for the mainstream. 

Highlights can be found below, with a link to the full AMA at the bottom of this post.

Mmetr: From a sales perspective, what acquisition channels are working best right now (e.g., PPC ads, cold calling, virtual events, podcasts, etc.)? How are you getting in touch with the C-suite executives at these major organizations? I would imagine there is extreme skepticism as you drive these executives through the sales funnel due to the project's inherent relation to cryptocurrency.

Luke: It's been a mix, depending on the specific type of acquisition.

Our Sales team uses a variety of resources for chasing prospects and getting ad deals in and through the pipeline.

Our Marketing team uses a mix of ACQ channels, with our Referral Program being a consistent driver of growth as well.

On the core BD team, we get a lot of inbound, but also strategic prospects for companies that we see as a good potential fit for growth or recurring revenue.

Regarding skepticism—haha that's a good point—it's been a bit of an evolution to be honest. When I started at Brave in 2016, skepticism was high and steady. I can say that having over 19M monthly active users has helped dilute a lot of skepticism. Skepticism is healthy.

Switch929: With Metamask now entering the exchange aggregation business, I’m curious to hear Brave's thoughts, given it runs a Metamask fork.

I think the portal to web3 is very important. Are there any plans to make a bigger push into leveraging Brave + Crypto Wallet as the one-stop shop for all things crypto, particularly DeFi? It's a huge market.

Luke: Good question. Our CTO Brian Bondy tweeted when Metamask made their announcement re: licensing to reassure the community that we're committed to web3 in Brave.

I'd strongly agree with your statement about web3 being very important as a portal.

Defi is changing the game in a lot of ways.

NFT use cases are particularly interesting as well.

What's really interesting to me is that we're looking at a time where usability and utility are beginning to converge.

When you look at the value that Brave brings out of the box (e.g., privacy, security, etc.) along with providing a web3 wallet (Crypto Wallet) and a track that aims to bring the mainstream to web3 over time (Brave Rewards), Brave is well positioned to be a gateway to DeFi and web3 protocols.

ReallyNewHere111: How many monthly active users are collecting BAT?

Luke: We have not officially released this figure on the Transparency page—but we're observing a range of between 15-25% of users opting in, depending on the country and operating system.

One of our key areas of focus over the next several months is increasing that range, as the two fastest ways for Brave to increase revenue is through continued user growth and increasing the opt-in rate for Brave Ads.

StrosPartisan: Why has the monthly BAT payout dropped so significantly vs prior months, especially given the apparent increase in advertiser BAT purchases facilitated by Brave?

Luke: While we aim to have consistent payouts, ad campaigns have different rates based on region, priority, and deal type.

One of the challenges with a growing ecosystem is balancing 1) increased growth with 2) experimentation with new/different deal types and 3) providing new opportunities for advertisers.

We've grown significantly over the past few months, and have seen increased growth in opt-in as well. This is reflected in the increase in advertiser BAT purchases made by Brave.

Part of testing out new deal types is to determine if they're the right fit ongoing. In our case, this involves evaluating whether or not people are earning enough to be excited about, and utilize. We've been evaluating this issue closely. We've modified some deals, removed others and re-focused on those that will net both Brave and our users the most value.

What I can say with confidence is that we're listening closely to feedback from the community. (Thank you all—seriously. Please keep it up.)

This is all iterative, and billed out on a monthly basis, so the changes won't be immediate, but should improve earnings over time.

Reddit-User: How has the ad system currently evolved since its launch and what are the next milestones in regards to its larger scope?

Luke: Good question.

The team has made a lot of progress, and put a lot of focus on ads since our earliest introduction (Dev Preview: 1/2019) and Release Channel launch (4/2019).

Here's an abbreviated evolution:

Get Brave Ads, in Brave:

  • Dev Channel Preview: Jan 2019
  • Release Channel launch (desktop): Apr 2019
  • Android launch: Jul 2019
  • iOS launch: Nov 2019

Get Brave Ads, everywhere we can:

  • The initial releases of Brave Ads on each Operating System took place in 5 countries.
  • We began adding support to additional countries in batches, with the latest batch in May 2020 bringing Brave Ads support to +190 countries.

Additions:

  • Sponsored Images: Jan 2020 (announcement), Feb 2020 (first campaign, featuring Western Digital)
  • 7 day ads history (desktop) 2019
  • Conversion reporting for advertisers (reporting on successful conversions): Mar 2020
  • Purchase intent segmentation (purchase intent) 2020
  • State-level geo-targeting in the US (Jul 2020)

In Development:

  • Publisher Ads (initial integration work)
  • Self-service (we have a set of advertisers testing this with us now)

We're exploring:

  • Video Ads
  • Sponsored Content
  • Out of Home use cases (QR codes additions, etc.)

I could write much more about this, but hopefully this helps provide some context!

rglullis: Is there anything stopping Mozilla to adopt a similar strategy to Brave's or even embrace Brave's own ad network?

Luke: Regarding future adoption by other browsers: We blogged early on (April 2017 IIRC) about our intent to produce a BAT SDK and extend the BAT beyond the Brave browser. We still intend to do this, but are still proving out primary utility cases in Brave.

It would be a win for all browsers to adopt BAT in my opinion. That's where my head is at. It's a long game, but one worth playing, and the timing continues to align with a future where solutions that have prioritized privacy will be the key leaders in the space.

Guy_on_the_Web: What is the approximate weight of Brave's various revenue streams (e.g., ads, trading widgets, search deals, and others?) in its overall revenue and how quickly are they growing?

Luke: Ads and Search revenue are the heaviest. Widgets are still relatively new, but are yielding interesting results.

glullis: The idea of the Brave Ads Grants are nice, but it only brings exposure to the projects and does not directly contribute to their development and funding. Would it be in Brave's horizon to actively fund/back projects that build private alternatives to the myriad of services provided by Big Tech? For example: For those that want to use Android without Google Services, how about an app store like F-Droid where people can pay/subscribe to the services and pay with BAT? Or a messaging app powered by a decentralized system (like Matrix, XMPP or status.im) to rival WeChat / Messenger / Duo-Allo-Hangouts-whatever-Google-calls-it?

Luke: There's a big focus on shipping new features and services that provide recurring revenue. These offerings are likely to be a result of strategic partnerships with like-minded companies that deliver solid products.

The first big step into this direction was with our Brave Firewall+VPN on iOS that we introduced at the end of July, in partnership with Guardian.

Stay tuned for more services over the next 6-8 months.

Leigh4200: Brave email? Is this in your future road map? u/brave.com u/bat.com 😀

Luke: All I will say is stay tuned on this one. 🙂

Samwi5e: Do you see professional artists as an avenue for Brave growth? Obviously COVID-19 has ruined the livelihoods of so many in the art community, one would think Brave could help in some small way. For example, artist bandcamps could become Brave-verified.

Luke: Solid question.

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: One of the great things about broadening the scope from "Publishers" to "Creators" is that it opens up more opportunity for more creative people to earn.

For example, we were able to create our Brave Ad Grant program with causes that verified as creators with Brave.

The introduction of inline tipping in Twitter, Reddit, GH has also opened up more opportunities for more people to earn.

HappyBeerKid: Brave comes preloaded with these options for address bar search: Yahoo, Google, DDG, Qwant, Startpage, and Bing. How much per search do those 6 partners pay on average and are the rates similar for each partner? If not, what else affects the price they pay?

Luke: Search engine rates vary by provider. The following factors impact search rates:

  • Provider terms
  • Country
  • Platform
  • Keyword categorization (what people are searching for)

There are a lot of variables, especially in a year like this one where major industries like travel, automotive and retail have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

High dollar purchases that result from search queries (travel, auto, etc.) tend to have greater returns than more casual queries.

There are also significant differences in value between desktop and mobile search. More people traditionally make larger purchases or do deeper research from desktop, though that is beginning to shift more and more to mobile over time.

bat_account: Does Brave have a rule of thumb on what types of current and future revenue streams (for example, business deals on Widgets and referral links) will be treated like Brave Ads in terms of revenue share? Since part of the reason companies will pay for Widgets is to have them prominently displayed to users and grab their attention, does this mean revenues would fall under a 70%/30% rule like Brave Ads? If not, can you explain why?

Luke: Brave Ads (requiring opt-in, and utilizing our ad confirmation event reporting protocol) will provide the user revenue share.

Sponsored images do as well, for users that have opted-in to Brave Ads.

Widgets do not reward users. They provide functional utility, and the branding is required to identify the service provided by the widget.

This is the important contrast between branding and advertising. Advertising via Brave Ads, or a Sponsored Image, is a promotional effort that typically includes an offer or call to action. Your attention is captured through the promotion, and you should be rewarded if you choose to opt-in.

While a user can discover a brand through a widget, the widget is providing a service and is different from a promotional campaign. It's a different relationship and value flow.

As a startup, we also have to focus on revenue for the growth and health of the company. Unfortunately, we cannot offer a rev share on every business line if we hope to stay in business. Having diversified lines of business is critical for an ecosystem like the one Brave and BAT bring to market.

All of that said, the case is pretty clear that Brave has a significant interest in delivering value to people, that Brave has positioned that people have been left out of the value exchange, and that rewarding people for their attention from advertising campaigns is a critical first step in this dynamic shift. Having people earn is important. We're working on a few different potential additional ways that people can earn, which people are likely to begin to see come to market in 2021.

Read the full AMA here.

See our recent AMA with Christopher, Technical Operations Coordinator at Brave, here

Follow the BAT Community’s Updates here: https://www.reddit.com/r/BATProject/

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