[Wolves] AdSense 'Interest Based' advertising

Political Penguin fish at politicalpenguin.org.uk
Fri Mar 13 23:56:32 UTC 2009

Claire wrote:
> Ironically, I dont mind the adverts, I very much object to the tracking 
> and targetting though. I've installed adblockplus which blocks the 
> adverts very well but will it prevent the tracking/targetting or just 
> remove the result?
Hi Claire,

This is a bit of a tricky area because in encompasses a variety of 
approaches that are all combined together.

Just for reference, I did a lot of work, if you're aware of the system, 
that from Phorm which attempted and still is attempting something 
similar with it's tie-up with BT and potentially other unspecified ISP's 
in establishing a profiled targeted advertising system.

The big difference between the two is that with Phorm the point at which 
the information is gathered is at the ISP level by (cutting things short 
on the technical side) inserting a classic man in the middle approach 
and intercepting data. You can take your pick as to what is ethical but 
whereas the Phorm approach is in my opinion completely unethical the 
Google approach has at least the excuse that Google provide some very 
useful services and all they are doing is monetarising them.

I don't use Google Ads on any of my sites so it would be interesting to 
know what they are asking web designers to do but we are dealing with 
the classic cookie based system which inherently has its flaws about who 
it targets as in it's not individual but machine based and potentially 
all the privacy issues surrounding that, not to mention the whole 
concept of opt-in vs opt-out but cutting to the bare bones of it, if you 
want to steer clear of this system as an end user you will have to 
undertake a few things.

Manage your cookies. They've not said or at least I haven't caught up on 
whether it will be something like you have the opt-out cookie or you 
simply don't accept their tracking cookie but either way you'll have to 
manage that dependent on how it works out.

The second is that this system tries to marry up the way in which what 
you search for displays Google ads which is nothing new because they've 
been doing that for ages so you either 1, use another search engine or 
two use something like Scroogle which removes your IP address. (yes I do 
know this isn't necessarily about IP addresses as it's a browsr specific 
cookie system but tying the two together isn't exactly hard)

Then, because Google utilise information gathered from multiple sites 
who use their analytics package you need to cut off that information to 
them. That's easily done by restricting Java which presuming you use 
Firefox is a snip by installing NoScript and only allowing things that 
you want running.

There's a fair few other things to consider but that's a good basis on 
how to avoid such things. Of course the obvious is as a web user and 
website owner in a commercial context is that if you don't like what a 
company is doing is to stop using their stuff. Sooner or later they get 
the message.

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