Exploring ADINT: Using Ad Targeting for Surveillance on a Budget — or — How Alice Can Buy Ads to Track Bob | Vines, Roesner, Kohno

Paul Vines, Franziska Roesner, Tadayoshi Kohno; Exploring ADINT: Using Ad Targeting for Surveillance on a Budget — or — How Alice Can Buy Ads to Track Bob; In Proceedings of the 16th ACM Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society (WPES 2017); 2017-10-30; 11 pages; outreach.

ahem → <ahem>it’s an implications performance.</ahem>
tl;dr → Tadayoshi et al. are virtuosos at these performance art happenings. Catchy hook, cool marketing name (ADINT) and press outreach frontrunning the actual conference venue. For the wuffie and the lulz. Nice demo tho.
and → They bought geofence campaigns in a grid. They used close-the-loop analytics to identify the sojourn trail of the target.
and → Er… don’t use Grindr.


The online advertising ecosystem is built upon the ability of advertising networks to know properties about users (e.g., their interests or physical locations) and deliver targeted ads based on those properties. Much of the privacy debate around online advertising has focused on the harvesting of these properties by the advertising networks. In this work, we explore the following question: can third-parties use the purchasing of ads to extract private information about individuals? We find that the answer is yes. For example, in a case study with an archetypal advertising network, we find that — for $1000 USD — we can track the location of individuals who are using apps served by that advertising network, as well as infer whether they are using potentially sensitive applications (e.g., certain religious or sexuality-related apps). We also conduct a broad survey of other ad networks and assess their risks to similar attacks. We then step back and explore the implications of our findings.


Separately noted.

Curiosity gap about AdTech, you won’t believe what happens next!

; Things you should know about AdTech, today; In His Blog, centrally hosted on LinkedIn; 2017-08-30; regwalled.


Boosterism in front of the trade shows
  • Exchange Wire #ATSL17
  • Dmexco
  • Programmatic IO

Separately noted.

Retargeting Without Tracking | Tran, Acs, Castelluccia


Retargeting ads are increasingly prevalent on the Internet as their effectiveness has been shown to outperform conventional targeted ads. Retargeting ads are not only based on users’ interests, but also on their intents, i.e. commercial products users have shown interest in. Existing retargeting systems heavily rely on tracking, as retargeting companies need to know not only the websites a user has visited but also the exact products on these sites. They are therefore very intrusive, and privacy threatening. Furthermore, these schemes are still sub-optimal since tracking is partial, and they often deliver ads that are obsolete (because, for example, the targeted user has already bought the advertised product).

This paper presents the first privacy-preserving retargeting ads system. In the proposed scheme, the retargeting algorithm is distributed between the user and the advertiser such that no systematic tracking is necessary, more control and transparency is provided to users, but still a lot of targeting flexibility is provided to advertisers. We show that our scheme, that relies on homomorphic encryption, can be efficiently implemented and trivially solves many problems of existing schemes, such as frequency capping and ads freshness.


Fraudulent traffic: adventures in ad farming | Digiday

Fraudulent traffic: adventures in ad farming; In Digiday; 2014-03-04.

tl;dr => Guy performs ad fraud. Gives the recipe.

Winners Emerge in Mobile Retargeting | Digiday

; Winners Emerge in Mobile Retargeting; In Digiday; 2013-12-06.

<quote>Mobile ad tech companies like AdTruth, Drawbridge and Tapad try to solve publishing’s mobile retargeting problem by analyzing billions of ads served each month on mobile and desktop and trying to glean patterns. But despite all the number crunching, their solutions are only 60 – 80 percent accurate. Retargeting isn’t a crude science for Facebook, Google and Twitter, though. Because their users sign in with the same account at multiple points, they can do it own their own, and with unprecedented accuracy.</quote>

The three hottest areas in digital advertising technology today | The Guardian

Simon Nicholls; The three hottest areas in digital advertising technology today; In The Guardian; 2013-10-23.
Teaser: Mobile, real-time bidding and marketing automation lead the field in an industry that continues to evolve at breakneck pace
Simon Nicholls is a partner at the technology investment banking group GP Bullhound.



  1. Mobile
  2. Real-Time Bidding (RTB)
  3. Marketing Automation


Our Digital Trail, And How It Can Be Used Against You | NPR

Daniel Zwerdling, G.W. Schulz; Your Digital Trail, And How It Can Be Used Against You; In All Tech Considered of NPR; 2013-09-30.

G. W. Schulz; Easily obtained subpoenas turn your personal information against you; In Center for Investigative Reporting of NPR; 2013-09-30.

Hot on Your Trail: Privacy, Your Data, and Who Has Access to It; On YouTube; 2013-09-30; 4:41.