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socketwrencher
Apr 10, 2012

Be still and know.

Maybe this is common knowledge but I have no idea how this works:

I went to a website which I'd never been to before and there were 6 ads on the page, all of them for products and/or websites that I'd visited in the past week. This website deals with an industry that I've never checked out on the internet.

I get that when I go to a site, they collect my data. What I don't get is how they use that data to arrange with another website, which I don't see how they could anticipate my visiting, to post relevant ads if/when I show up on that site.

Maybe this is something my browser (Firefox) is doing?

Thanks so much for any clarification.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Orcs and Ostriches
Aug 26, 2010



The Great Twist

Using Google Ads as an example, but other ad networks would work the same.

The site you visited would be using Google ads, as would countless others. So if you're browsing pet rock sites, and those sites use Google Ads, Google will record that information. Later on when you're browsing German Dungeon Porn that also has Google Ads, they use their previous knowledge of your browsing habits to show pet rocks.

And then you visit some other site that uses an ad network that allows flash ads or has some other exploit, and then you get free keyloggers and poo poo installed and you probably should just be using Adblock and not worrying about it.

Orcs and Ostriches fucked around with this message at Dec 17, 2014 around 16:48

socketwrencher
Apr 10, 2012

Be still and know.

Orcs and Ostriches posted:

Using Google Ads as an example, but other ad networks would work the same.

The site you visited would be using Google ads, as would countless others. So if you're browsing pet rock sites, and those sites use Google Ads, Google will record that information. Later on when you're browsing German Dungeon Porn that also has Google Ads, they use their previous knowledge of your browsing habits to show pet rocks.

And then you visit some other site that uses an ad network that allows flash ads or has some other exploit, and then you get free keyloggers and poo poo installed and you probably should just be using Adblock and not worrying about it.

Thanks O and O, I appreciate this. Now I'm trying to figure out how you knew about German Dungeon Porn...

Spatulater bro!
Aug 19, 2003



What are ads?

socketwrencher
Apr 10, 2012

Be still and know.


Cheers caiman. Will download now.

1gnoirents
Jun 28, 2014

ASK ME ABOUT MY MICRO PENIS


I always had the "well thats how they must work" mindset towards ads, but I realized I dont actually know at all. It is startling sometimes, however.

What really trips me out is Google autocomplete, especially on my phone. If I were paranoid I'd think its actually listening for keywords in conversations I just had with someone (not on the phone, just in person). Just yesterday I searched for something I've never searched before - some bar I've never heard of where a friend's band we were just talking about was going to play - and I typed three letters (I seriously think it was "lol") and it autocompleted with LOLAS SALLOON FT WORTH TEXAS. Really google? Wow

socketwrencher
Apr 10, 2012

Be still and know.

1gnoirents posted:

I always had the "well thats how they must work" mindset towards ads, but I realized I dont actually know at all. It is startling sometimes, however.

What really trips me out is Google autocomplete, especially on my phone. If I were paranoid I'd think its actually listening for keywords in conversations I just had with someone (not on the phone, just in person). Just yesterday I searched for something I've never searched before - some bar I've never heard of where a friend's band we were just talking about was going to play - and I typed three letters (I seriously think it was "lol") and it autocompleted with LOLAS SALLOON FT WORTH TEXAS. Really google? Wow

Whoa, that's wild. Have you seen the British tv show Black Mirror? Kind of a Twilight Zone-ish vibe with a tech slant.

fletcher
Jun 27, 2003

ken park is my favorite movie

Cybernetic Crumb

You may also be interested in this: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/fi...ddon/lightbeam/

Vrih
Apr 4, 2004
:)

There are essentially 2 ways and advertiser buys ad space on a website. The simplest way is just the advertiser buying directly from the website and not caring really who you are but that isn't interesting.

Increasingly ads are bought through ad exchanges (heading towards 50% of ad spend now). The journey starts when you go to an advertiser's website. As you are browsing the website you will be firing pixels (traditionally invisible images but other methods can be used) that allow the advertisers ad buying platform to identify you and where you have been on their site.

At this point the buying platform essentially has a record of what pages you've been to on the advertisers site alongside an ID that's unique to their platform. With this information they put users into buckets of people they want to target and people they don't based on whether they purchased or just browsed for example.

Now when you browse sites with advertising on most of them are sending requests out to ad exchanges. These exchanges receiving the incoming request from the publisher and then hold an auction where 10s or 100s of platforms can all compete to show you the ad. When the request comes out the platforms are able to identify you by the ID they set previously and decide what bid to place on you.

When it comes to deciding what products to show in the ad most platforms are really simple. As you browse the advertisers site they store the last product you looked at in a cookie on your browser. Once they've bought the ad slot they will then look up that cookie and decide on other products based on that ID. There are more sophisticated platforms now that can tie that information back into your previous purchase history and show much better personalised recommendations.

Now I admit that there is a potentially creepy element to this as there is a lot of data being generated that could build up a profile of you. It's for this reason that ad companies take significant steps to avoid tying in personal information. With the platform I work on it's a major issue if we're accidentally passed an email address or name. It would be an instant sacking offence if somebody did try and work out who somebody is. Where we use advertisers purchase history we are mapping their anonymous customer identifier to ours - we never see any personal info.

Nonviolent J
Jul 20, 2006



Soiled Meat

what the guys

socketwrencher
Apr 10, 2012

Be still and know.


Very cool, I'm going to download this. Thanks!

socketwrencher
Apr 10, 2012

Be still and know.

Vrih posted:

There are essentially 2 ways and advertiser buys ad space on a website. The simplest way is just the advertiser buying directly from the website and not caring really who you are but that isn't interesting.

Increasingly ads are bought through ad exchanges (heading towards 50% of ad spend now). The journey starts when you go to an advertiser's website. As you are browsing the website you will be firing pixels (traditionally invisible images but other methods can be used) that allow the advertisers ad buying platform to identify you and where you have been on their site.

At this point the buying platform essentially has a record of what pages you've been to on the advertisers site alongside an ID that's unique to their platform. With this information they put users into buckets of people they want to target and people they don't based on whether they purchased or just browsed for example.

Now when you browse sites with advertising on most of them are sending requests out to ad exchanges. These exchanges receiving the incoming request from the publisher and then hold an auction where 10s or 100s of platforms can all compete to show you the ad. When the request comes out the platforms are able to identify you by the ID they set previously and decide what bid to place on you.

When it comes to deciding what products to show in the ad most platforms are really simple. As you browse the advertisers site they store the last product you looked at in a cookie on your browser. Once they've bought the ad slot they will then look up that cookie and decide on other products based on that ID. There are more sophisticated platforms now that can tie that information back into your previous purchase history and show much better personalised recommendations.

Now I admit that there is a potentially creepy element to this as there is a lot of data being generated that could build up a profile of you. It's for this reason that ad companies take significant steps to avoid tying in personal information. With the platform I work on it's a major issue if we're accidentally passed an email address or name. It would be an instant sacking offence if somebody did try and work out who somebody is. Where we use advertisers purchase history we are mapping their anonymous customer identifier to ours - we never see any personal info.

So interesting, thanks. Your company seems to have more integrity re: not seeking personal customer information than I suspect most other companies have. Maybe that's a false assumption.

Crotch Fruit
Jul 1, 2007

ASK ME ABOUT
CRUSTING MY
JORTS OVER THE
INTERNATIONAL
FEMINIST LEGO
AGENDA



OK I just installed this, primairly because my AdBlock Plus extension was not working, I might have disabeled it a long time ago without knowing, or maybe it was out of date. My point is I thought AdBlock Plus used to be the goto for removing ads, should I consider AdBlock Plus?

garbagewater
Oct 18, 2010


Crotch Fruit posted:

OK I just installed this, primairly because my AdBlock Plus extension was not working, I might have disabeled it a long time ago without knowing, or maybe it was out of date. My point is I thought AdBlock Plus used to be the goto for removing ads, should I consider AdBlock Plus?

Definitely use Adblock Plus over AdBlock any day. Adblock Plus and AdBlock are not affiliated in any way. Adblock Plus is the original, is open source and has a strict privacy policy. AdBlock is none of those things and I've heard some pretty nefarious things about AdBlock collecting user data.

Ojjeorago
Sep 21, 2008

I had a dream, too. It wasn't pleasant, though ... I dreamt I was a moron...


Gary’s Answer

Adblock * are all bad bloated poo poo, on Chrome you should be using µBlock.

Pakistani Brad Pitt
Nov 28, 2004

Not as taciturn, but still terribly powerful...

There is really no problem or bloat with Adblock Plus, minus a single checkbox that you have to uncheck.

Pastamania
Mar 5, 2012

You cannot know.
The things I've seen.
The things I've done.
The things he made me do.


socketwrencher posted:

So interesting, thanks. Your company seems to have more integrity re: not seeking personal customer information than I suspect most other companies have. Maybe that's a false assumption.

Individual personal information isn't really that valuable to marketers, to be honest, so there's no reason for anyone to take the risk in recording it. Advertisers want to buy 100,000 'impressions' of an ad in front of people who like german dungeon porn - knowing your name or phone number doesn't help them achieve that. Advertising isn't the same thing as, say, sales, where that information is golddust - The rates of people who even acknowledge the existence of an advert are so incredibly low nowadays that you have to reach a bazillion people just to make the scale work. Ain't nobody got time to start trying to track down individuals data, that poo poo don't scale up.

Biggest risk to privacy IMO isn't advertisers or the networks, it's when you're friend borrows your laptop and notices that the ads are all for German Dungeon porn. I had a workmate (who worked in digital marketing, so he really should of known better but that's besides the point) who I discovered was probably not hetrosexual when helping fix his computer. He never told me, and it's none of my loving business nor do I give a poo poo, but thanks to the wonders of Google's ad targeting I could tell that he'd been on some gay dating sites at some point recently. Thanks for that, Google Display Network.

Also, just because the advertisers and networks have no reason to try and reconstruct that data and to put a profile together, doesn't mean nobody else might want to.

Thing is, Adblocks aren't a feasible solution either, unless we want half the web to end up behind paywalls (which is where it's already going). I think most people are ok with advertising, to a point, but when you've got hideously coded flash video autoplaying-with-the-sound-loving-on monstrosities on the networks that are reducing relatively decent systems to their knees before stalking them round the web.....yeah, of course people are going to block the loving things. For what it's worth, that's a point that many people of us are pushing at industry events and the like, but most people involved in the whole process don't know the first thing about technology and treat the internet like a massive magazine because that's the nearest thing to it they learned about in university, so you get annoying, irrelevant adverts that are hideously coded because people don't understand the sort of content you can create on the web and if you don't understand anything about programming why wouldn't you send the development to the cheapest bidding offshore agency?


We also need to have some sort of technology that can replace the functionality of Cookies while improving users better ability to control their use to prevent retargeting , or at least to minimise it to the point that it's less creepy (I don't ever trust that anyone is going to care about the 'Do Not Track' button unless they're absolutely forced to). And a law that states that anyone who makes an advert autoplay any sort of noise should be loving executed on the spot.

Vrih
Apr 4, 2004
:)

quote:

We also need to have some sort of technology that can replace the functionality of Cookies while improving users better ability to control their use to prevent retargeting , or at least to minimise it to the point that it's less creepy (I don't ever trust that anyone is going to care about the 'Do Not Track' button unless they're absolutely forced to). And a law that states that anyone who makes an advert autoplay any sort of noise should be loving executed on the spot.

Cookies are a lot better than some of the alternatives for tracking people in terms of privacy. The only alternative currently is fingerprinting devices - examining the various attributes like IP address, user agent, time of day that you're seen, to identify with a strong probability that you're the same person. The problem is in order to do this you essentially do have to build up personal profiles to get enough points to match to. That's the kind of situation where you are building up and cross matching information that is a bit creepy. That's what worries me most about a lot of probabilistic cross device tracking companies - they essentially work by identifying the IP addresses up live at and work at and when you travel between them.

For cookie/device ID based deterministic tracking you don't need to bother with that. You just work with publishers that have login gated areas to sync up to say this cookie and this device ID both logged in as the same user (without revealing who that user is). I think that's more anonymous that the probabilistic model even though it's more accurate.

The industry is actually taking steps to homogenise cookies so that if you opt out once it will opt out across the majority of ad tech companies (excluding Google, Facebook, Twitter). It's basically a response to Google and Facebook being in a position where they have all your data and could easily turn nasty and try and control the whole market.

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ADBOT LOVES YOU

Morroque
Mar 6, 2013


Ads themselves are only one part of the equation. Most of them still use either sessions or cookies, and if you configure your browser to throw out all cookies every time you close the window, you'd quickly see that most websites can't remember anything about you. It can be kind of annoying every time you go to Youtube or something, and in lieu of actual recommendations they serve up the mass market pablum instead. It's entirely clientside, therefore completely controllable -- if only a matter of education.

Serverside stuff is much more nebulous; that's where trackers come up. There is a Firefox browser called Ghostery (https://www.ghostery.com/en/) that keeps track of trackers and also blocks certain cookie kinds.

My method for blocking ads and privacy is a pipeline of a good HOSTS file, then Adblock, then Ghostery, a few flash cookie deleting programs, and then keeping Firefox eternally in private browsing mode to keep no browsing history in local memory. I could do better if I used NoScript, but whitelisting is much more difficult than blacklisting. Arguably, the HOSTS file is the best method of sabotaging advertisements, but it can only be manually updated. Using it in combination with Adblock actually made me admire Adblock more, as even if all the advertisements are blocked, it later goes and cleans up the HTML to make sure a few whitespaces as possible appear in the web design. It's quite elegant, really.

There is one whole book written about the more social aspect of internet advertising, The Daily You by Joseph Turow. It doesn't go into the technical aspect of things as much as I'd like, but it covers things more from the media buying process.

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