back to article Google plugs your surf history into ad money machine

Google has unleashed a new behavioral ad targeting scheme onto YouTube and partner sites in its AdSense advertising network - though it has carefully avoided the term behavioral ad targeting. Google prefers "interest-based advertising." Whatever you call it, YouTube and AdSense sites are now showing ads to websurfers based on …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I for one...

    am looking forward to this type of interactive browsing... now, when I google discreet or farm animal, or look the other way... It will be far easier to find resources available to my ilk

    wandering back to his cave, ogg wondered if he had discovered fire.. or had it discovered him

  2. adnim

    I wonder

    how this will work with a user that never accepts cookies and if a cookie is essential to view the content only allows the cookie for that session. A user that has also blocked google-analytics and *.doubleclick.* and every other damned ad server out there, blocks scripts by default again only allowing them to run if essential to the sites' function and refreshes his/her dynamic IP address every two days?

    I would be impressed if Google could track and supply targeted advertising to that user, and if they can, could someone enlighten me as to how so I can do something about it.

    Where's the no-entry icon? Ahh I guess stop will do

  3. vincent himpe

    They should caal if Phoogle

    as in crossbreed of Phorm and Google.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How'd they figure out that I looove ads that block pieces of Register stories?

  5. andy


    Install Ad-Blocker plugin for firefox along with Ad filter set and by magic no advertising!

    Filters ads from media companies by url.. works a treat!

    Has sealed my move from IE.. :)

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward


    If you follow the opt-out links from Google and you're using Chrome it tells you to to set the cookie options to "restrict how third party cookies can be used" and this prevents any data being sent. This, they say, is the same as permanently opting out.

  8. Toastan Buttar

    Not an issue

    If you're already happy to use cookies with Google, this is no more sinister. If you still don't like the idea, just stop using Google altogether. It's not like it's monitoring all your surfing habits, like it would if it was based at your ISP, a la Phorm.

    Don't worry, be happy.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Here's an idea for Google:

    Look into Front Porch, Inc. They have a product called a PorchLight that can do behavioral targeting based on IP address, not on name, credit card number, or anything else personally identifying. Best of all, it's a non-cookie based opt-out, so when you opt out, you opt out.

  10. Andy ORourke

    Reg ad blocking

    I thought it was just my browser blocking parts of the storynot just el reg censoring stories!

    Helicopter, because, hell, even that's missing now!

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Google != Phorm

    What Google is doing is serving up ads based on a tracking cookie on AdSense-containing web pages that the user visits. This is intrusive and annoying, but blockable.

    What BT-Phorm are intending to do is sniff a user's entire traffic at ISP level. That is unacceptable, and probably also illegal.

  12. RW

    Google and privacy

    Notwithstanding Google's slogan "do no evil", they don't give a shit about anybody's privacy. So much is obvious, and has been for quite some time.

    When Google took over blogger. com, I deleted my blogs, then the Google profile I'd had to set up to retrieve them. Now, with the latest news about their snoopiness I've set my Firefox user agent string to "Fuck you Google!". This is a little more straightforward than the "Eye o'Sauron" I used to use.

    And for most searches I no longer use Google, preferring

    Stop it. Google.

  13. Iain


    Is there a link or url for that browser plugin you mentioned? (Not that I am going to pull it apart to see how it works, adnim)

  14. SilverWave

    CustomizeGoogle addon for Firefox!

    CustomizeGoogle 0.76 <>

    And just to be safe: Untick "Accept 3rd party cookies"

  15. Chronos

    Two words:

    Scroogle SSL. Google get no information on you personally and it confounds DPI by being encrypted.

    IXQuick SSL is another option.

    I know, Mozdev, but these results include search plugins for IE7 and other browsers with OpenSearch compatible support. Be sure to use the SSL versions of these; there are non-SSL plugins, but that leaves you at the mercy of DPI and snooping from within your own ISP's network. Note: Konqueror does not support OpenSearch right now. You guys need to plug the string "\{@}" into the search setup.

  16. Redbaron
    Thumb Up

    I love ads

    Well, I hardly ever see them (various FF plugins), but if I do have to see the buggers I'd rather they were about things that interest me rather than cialis and that ilk.

    Sometimes maybe I would actually be interested in a new canoe paddle, if it's a good deal at the right price :)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Use CustomizeGoogle

    You can set it to anonymise the google cookie. Also stops google tracking your searches.

    Of course, you should also be using Adblock Plus.

  18. Ian Chard

    An industry-wide opt-out database

    would mean that you'd need to find a way of identifying yourself wherever this matters. Who wants to have to log in to a search engine?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Oh well...

    ...look on the good side. For the Yoof, it will be so much easy to.... "Find Happy Slapping On eBay".

    As the wife is a Social Worker, going to be interesting what ad's will be server to her...."Find Domestic Abuse on eBay"

    Of course could back fire for many, when there other halfs log in and get ads.... "Find Hot Leather Teen Action on eBay"

  20. Juan Inamillion


    Mate, try this: the next time these miscreants leave unctuous deposits, get hold of a tin of Mr Muscle Oven Cleaner, take a deep breath and quickly cover the warm surface with foam. Then get the fuck out of Dodge and shut the door, preferably leaving your neuronically-challenged cooker-sharers inside. Oh, you can breath at this point. Those inside may have minor respiratory problems. This should enhance the importance of cleaning up after one's culinary adventures.

    Oh, the Mr Mister Muscle Oven Cleaner is extremely effective - it'll clear the dingleberries off a rabid dog's freckle. I've used it on a motorbike not cleaned for twelve moths to great effect (watch out for the alloy parts though).

    Sorry this is slightly off-topic but these things need to be addressed I feel.

    /apron with pockets

  21. Alex
    Thumb Down

    /close eyes

    "I'm fine, I run adblock"

    no you're not, you just don't see them!

    consider peer guardian.

    this is all getting too much too quick, I'm looking forwards to the tabloid press realising that all this Deep Profiling is gonna screw their advertising revenue as greedy company's blow their wad on tracking Jo, John and Diane because they need incontinence pads.

    if there is hope it lays with the paroles.

  22. Toastan Buttar

    Cialis ? Canoe Paddle ?

    As Flash said; "Nursey ! Am I pleased to see you or did I just put a canoe in my pocket ?"

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You mean .

    .. block google at browser level

    "It's not like it's monitoring all your surfing habits, like it would if it was based at your ISP, a la Phorm."

    Lots of sites use google analytics, so its not really much different

  24. Sceptical Bastard


    If you're a savvy Reg reader, you probably avoid using Google as much as possible. You probably run Firefox with NoScript and AdBlock Plus. You clear cookies on exit and don't accept third party cookies. You block AdServer, Akamai, Google Analytics, Doubleclick and the rest. You disconnect regularly to change your dynamic IP address. You may use Anonymous or Tor when searching.

    It's the other 99% of web users that get tricked by the likes of Google. It's them whose interests we should be fighting for. The trouble is, of course, they *like* the apparent ease of so-called 'services' from free-to-use portals like MSN, Yeehaw and Google.

    What does one do to protect the stupid and lazy from their stupidity and laziness?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But is it behavioural?

    Phorm suck ALL your content and use that to profile you.

    Google seem to be saying that if you visit sites that use their "profiler" system (which seems to be limited at the moment) then what you look at on that site can then be used to target google ads delivered to you on other sites. In a way its a slightly extended version of the existing adsense program in that adsense delivers ads based on the content of the pages on the site you are looking at.

    So if I go to a site that is not in Google's ad program then the cookie isn't tracked/updated and what I do on that site does not alter my google profile.

    Very very different from Phorm isn't it, and webmasters will still get their cut from Googleads on their sites which are still content targetted, unlike Phorm who "steal" your content and use that to profile your readers and make money from your content without your permission.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Tim


    If people are that concerned, just use Opera, then right click and select "block content". Easy peasy.

    Alternatively, click on all the ads but never ever buy anything from those companies. In the long run they will realise that such advertising is producing decreasing conversion rates and will give it up.


  28. N

    Adblock Plus

    I find this works a treat in FF,

    As for Google gathering statistics, Im not sure if customise google removes this, but it certainly takes out a lot of crap

    You could always use Trackmenot FF add in which runs low priority & broadcasts random search stuff making the real searches hard to analyse

    Alternatively you can always use a different search engine.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not

    track logged-in Google account users? That way there's identifiable data (to be stripped) but it's entirely opt-in; if I don't want Gooogle to see what I'm searching for I can just log out.

    There's gotta be a load of frequently / constantly logged-in users.

  30. B3vil

    Time to start blocking.

    never really felt the need to use adblock etc. until now as Google's ads never seems intrusive, however, with this news it's just gone onto all my machines.

  31. Toastan Buttar
    Black Helicopters

    @Sceptical Bastard

    For "If you're a savvy Reg reader..." read "If you're a tinfoil-hat-wearing paranoid..."

    Good grief, man ! Do you ever use a debit/credit card for online payments or in bricks-and-mortar shops ? Guess what ? You're being profiled ! If not, then my apologies for my presumption.

    You continue: "The trouble is, of course, they *like* the apparent ease of so-called 'services' from free-to-use portals like MSN, Yeehaw and Google.

    What does one do to protect the stupid and lazy from their stupidity and laziness?"

    Google provides the best search engine - by far - in the Interwebz and the reason it's free to use is that they get an income from advertisers. If we geeks supply every 'lazy and stupid' web user in the world with the means to defeat ads, guess what'll happen ? That's right - the best damned search engine on the Web becomes a subscription-based fee-paying service. Thanks, mate !

    Let's keep the AdBlockPlus trick (and its ilk) secret for us and our immediate friends and family.

  32. Doug Glass

    @RW (ixquick)

    Thanks for your post, after playing with the site for a while I switched all my browsers (FF of course) to ixquick and removed Google as an option. Running ixquick and AdBlock Plus I feel safe. Well, at least I wont be feeding the big "G" Goon squad any more that I can tell.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Eat my...

    ...NoScript ,AdBlocker, CustomizeGoogle and TrackMeNot; bitches.

    That is all.

  34. adnim

    @sceptical bastard

    "What does one do to protect the stupid and lazy from their stupidity and laziness?" Er... Fsckall, we need the patsy. I also think all warning labels should be removed, let evolution sort things out.

    If one was swimming in shark infested waters the best form of defence would be to throw children over ones shoulder and swim real fast. /metaphor I don't condone sacrificing children to ensure ones safety.

    Seriously, just inform and attempt to make them aware, if they are not smart enough or too lazy to protect themselves when provided with the information needed, so be it. Besides, if people have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear, so let's just let the people who believe this take the flak.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    It's cookie-based for now...

    As several people have rightly pointed out, this seems cookie based, so it's easy to disable without having to accept an opt-out cookie. At the URL linked from the article, I get the message

    "Your browser's cookies seem to be disabled. Ads Preferences will not work until you enable cookies in your browser."

    All well and good. As long as Google doesn't switch to tracking by IP.

    So: how long are ISPs going to allow broadband customers to get a new IP address every time they want one? My DHCP lease is over a week long, and I'm not convinced that my ISP wouldn't just give me the same IP back again even if I did switch my cable modem off long enough. Certainly that's what it does if I deliberately release and refresh.

    With sites like Wikipedia blocking by IP address, customers are going to be less and less impressed with the idea that their ISP has given them a ropey, pre-owned IP address that some vandal or unsuspecting bot-owner has managed to get banned from half the web. Prior to IPv6, the only solution is one IP address per customer, and if you break it, tough luck.

    Once Google can rely on one household per IP address (at least within blocks it knows are residential ISPs), then why *wouldn't* it target ads by IP, in cases where cookies are blocked? Sure, you conflate a small number of users, and advertise tellytubbies to Dad and porn^Hcars to the kids, but it's still better than no targeting at all.

    That's why log anonymisation matters, at least for those not already using TOR. Your IP address either already is personally identifying information, or will be soon.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Toastan - @ adnim


    Firstly, I don't have a credit card and even if I did I would be extremely wary of using it online anywhere.

    I agree that Google is probably the best search engine for general use. And with Adblock Plus, one isn't annoyed by the adverts. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be very suspicious of Google.

    You make the point that there's no such thing as a free lunch - that it is advertising revenue that keeps Google alive. That assumes that we want Google kept alive.


    You say: "I don't condone sacrificing children to ensure ones safety." Why ever not? They are small, cheap and expendable. Making new ones is easy and fun.

    Yes, anyone who cannot see the danger in that "nothing to hide" bullshit deserves what they get.


    You advocate keeping technical knowledge to ourselves. Nah. The more people who know what's going on behind their backs the better. Our responsibility as technically literate people - in as much as we have any general responsibilty - is to educate, not smile smugly behind our firewalls.

    I am proud to be called a "tinfoil-hat-wearing paranoid." I'm paranoic with good reason - they really are out to get us all.

  37. Mark H

    @ Mr Paranoid

    'I am proud to be called a "tinfoil-hat-wearing paranoid." I'm paranoic with good reason - they really are out to get us all.'


  38. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Mr Paranoid

    Well... that's the thing about being paranoid, you say 'they really are out to get us all'. That's just a defining characteristic, not a radical pronouncement that's going to make any scales fall from any eyes.

    And it's fair enough to not care if you're called a tinfoil-hat-wearing paranoid, but I'm not sure I'd be proud of it - it's kind of um, derogatory (which we defined elsewhere yesterday).

    Hey ho.

    (I'm not out to get you though. Or *am* I?)

  39. Matthew Collier

    Not enough mention of Scroogle...

    ...but plenty of AdBlock etc.

    Of course, Scroogle *could* be untrustworthy also, but, they don't have the global reach of Google, so are comparitively, a safe bet.

    If I were Google, I'd be asking Scroogle how much money they wanted, for selling their IP logs!

    Perhaps TOR to Scroogle, just to be sure? ;)

    Matt :)

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