Inside App Extensions: WebKit Content Blockers extend user privacy in iOS 9, OS X Safari 9

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2015
Last year, Apple introduced App Extensions to enable third party developers to add system-wide features using a secure new architecture. This year, iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan introduce a new Content Blockers category of App Extensions, specifically targeting Safari.

iOS 9 Safari Content Blockers


Apple previously introduced App Extensions at WWDC 2014, grouped into categories targeting specific functions. These include system-wide Share Extensions, Photo Editing Extensions (extending the features of the Photos app), Today Extensions (supporting widgets) and Custom Keyboards specific to iOS. Content Blockers are a new class of App Extensions specially targeting Safari.

Because the most obvious role for Content Blockers is to allow users to remove advertising from webpages, this new functionality has generated controversy and raised alarms among web publishers concerned about losing the already limited revenue they earn from banner ads, as well as the potential loss of cookies they might use to help enforce paywalls around their content.

Many of the same journalists who have been cheering for "free" music and unpaid distribution of bootleg movies--while chiding music labels and movie studios to "change their business models to align with popular demand for free content"--are now finding themselves facing a similar dilemma: how to get paid for creating content their audiences can easily access without paying anything for it.

Before considering the issue of web content without forced advertising and behavior tracking, first take a look at how Content Blocker App Extensions work and what they are designed to accomplish.

What are Content Blocker App Extensions?

New Content Blocker App Extensions for Safari on iOS 9 (and Safari 9 on OS X El Capitan) target subsets of web content or resources, preventing them from being shown or even being loaded in the first place. This can include display ads, images, navigation elements, popups, scripts, fonts, style sheets, media files, cookies, or essentially anything on a web page.

Using Safari's Web Inspector, an App Extension developer can select any portion of a web page, from a specific image or advertisement to an HTML div tag encapsulating a block of user comments, and then create a rule list that tells Safari to not show--or even never load--that resource when visiting the site.

Blocking content has already been available as a feature in OS X since Safari 5 (via Safari Extensions), but is entirely new to iOS 9, as iOS has never previously been able to load any type of extensions (including legacy plugins such as Adobe Flash Player or Microsoft Silverlight).

Outside of Apple's platforms, web browser extension architectures already support ad blockers on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and even Google's mobile Android browsers. Google is, of course, not particularly supportive of blocking ads, because it makes the majority of its revenues from advertising.

Instead, Google and other advertisers have partnered with "ad blockers" to prevent competitors' ads from being shown, while whitelisting their own advertising, according to a report by the Financial Times.

A major architectural change for Safari 9

Apple's implementation of Content Blockers as App Extensions is a major architectural change for Safari 9, both on iOS devices and the Mac.

Most web browsers (apart from iOS) have long supported plugins, which are binary code that the browser loads to handle specific types of media files, such as Flash, PDF or SVG. These are notorious for hogging memory and introducing stability problems and security vulnerabilities (the main reason why Apple did not support plugins in iOS at all, and why it sandboxes them in Safari to limit the damage they can cause when they crash or are exploited).

In Safari 5, Apple introduced Safari Extensions (built using JavaScript, HTML and CSS) to enable third party developers to add new browser features, ranging reformatting the content of loaded pages to translating text into another language, to removing images or blocking ads. However, because they manipulate web pages as they are loaded, they can also consume lots of memory and processor resources.

App Extensions differ from Safari Extensions in that they are built in native code (distributed with a companion app). This makes them both more powerful and more efficient than Safari Extensions, largely because the new architecture allows apps to instruct Safari to block content before it is ever loaded, rather than Safari involving a JavaScript Safari Extension during its loading and rendering process.

Apple created the new App Extension model for Content Blocking for iOS 9, but is also bringing it to OS X El Capitan, even though there is already a Safari Extensions mechanism to do the same thing. That's because the App Extension approach is both faster and more memory efficient.

Designed with privacy in mind

A side benefit to Content Blockers being implemented as an App Extension is that they perform their intended function without knowing (or recording) what content the user is actually browsing, eliminating privacy concerns.

Safari App Extension Content Blockers can't see URLs of the pages or other resources the user has requested, because they only define rules of what Safari should block. WebKit also does not record which blocking rules have been executed on specific URLs."There is a whole universe of features that can take advantage of the content blocker API, around privacy or better user experience." - Benjamin Poulain

Regarding Content Blockers, WebKit developer Benjamin Poulain notes, "we have been building these features with a focus on providing better control over privacy. We wanted to enable better privacy filters, and that is what has been driving the feature set that exists today. There is a whole universe of features that can take advantage of the content blocker API, around privacy or better user experience. We would love to hear your feedback about what works well, what needs improvement, and what is missing."

In addition to blocking the display of advertising (or other distracting screen elements) the way Safari Reader does, Content Blockers can actually not only prevent visible ads from loading, but also block invisible JavaScripts or other elements that web publishers or advertising networks use to track users and identify them across web properties.

Content Blocker App Extensions define "triggers" that identify specific types of resources on a given domain, and then tell Safari not to load them as part of the page. A specific rule can also differentiate between first party resources (hosted by the website the user is intending to visit) and third party resources (injected into the page by an advertising network or other foreign domain).

In iOS 9, app developers can distribute a Content Blocker as part of their app. It remains inactive by default until the user turns it on, at which point Safari incorporates the blocker's rule set into its loading behaviors. Once activated by the user, Content Blockers affect not only how pages load in Safari, but also how pages load in any apps using Safari View Controller to incorporate web page rendering.

Developers can also present users with management settings within their app, allowing individuals to select what kinds of content they want to block, and then restrict or whitelist specific sites. Once new rules are defined, the app can then update Safari's behavior to reflect the user's desired settings.

A big shift for the web

Apple's new Content Blocker introduces an monumental shift in web publishing back to the original design of the web as an open platform for sharing information, particularly in a form that individual browser clients could freely interpret as they wished.

Rather than being a static content stream like television, the web was originally designed to send structured data from servers to web browsers in a form the end user could customize and liberally interpret. This enabled accessibility features and cross platform support, but also allowed automated robots to scan web pages and glean just what they wanted to find.

That includes Google's bots that index web pages for search. Because nobody wanted to pay for search, Google turned to search placement advertising to monetize its services. Google also began pulling data from web pages to position next to its ads in exchange for sending lots of web search traffic back to the original web pages. After its acquisition of DoubleClick and AdMob, Google also became a major vendor of display advertising on third party websites.

However, the value of display ads keeps dropping, meaning that publishers have to push more and more ads on their sites to earn any money. Ads are also getting more aggressive, with interstitials, popups and overlays that many users find maddening and intrusive.

Web ads are also getting smarter, in that that ad networks track user behaviors to sell advertisers placement in front of specific demographics where those ads are likely to perform better.

The primary way to become better at selling ads is to more narrowly target likely buyers, which has resulted in the web becoming inundated with tracking scripts and cookies to monitor and record where a user goes, compiling a dossier of their specific interests inferred from their browsing history combined with their social network likes and pluses.

Some of this aligns with users' own interests, enabling free services paid for by display advertising that is relevant and perhaps even interesting. However, there is a growing backlash among many users that don't want companies collecting large amounts of data about them, data that may be inadvertently published, stolen by malicious identity thieves or obtained by oppressive governments seeking to track their citizens to control dissent.

The potential impacts of content blocking for publishers

While ad blocking isn't new, and has long been used by Windows, Android and Mac users, the introduction of Content Blockers on iOS is noteworthy because the platform represents the largest audience of affluent mobile users. Google was recently reported to obtain 75 percent of its mobile revenues from iOS, despite the larger installed base of its own Android.

Rapid deployment of iOS releases also means that iOS 9 will reach many users rapidly, and the ease of installing and activating Content Blockers means that the world's most valuable platform of users will likely experience a significant drop in ad views, not to mention a critical loss of user tracking data on the web.

There are a number of likely consequences. First, because Content Blockers only effect the open web, publishers are likely to increasingly move toward delivering commercial content via apps, where it's easier to impose subscription paywalls, present display ads, or present an alternative monetization strategy. This could nudge the open web back toward its origins as a free repository of information with limited advertising.

Another direction might be a shift toward "native advertising," where content is positioned as having an ad sponsor, sometimes overtly being an advertorial. This blends the line between journalism and marketing, a line that's unfortunately already pretty grey on the web.

In a similar fashion, content publishers may seek to rely more upon affiliate deals or product placement, or other forms of advertising that can't be blocked. Some publishers are already moving web content toward videos, a television-like shift that makes it easier to reach users who don't like to read, while also presenting them with advertisements that they can't skip over.

Apple's iTunes Radio currently presents audio and video ads to monetize its free tier, while eliminating ads for subscribers, a model followed by many other app developers.

Apple's critics have been quick to imagine a cynical motive behind Content Blockers as a way to favor apps (which it offers to monetize with iAd) over the web (which it doesn't currently have any iAd program to address), but that doesn't take into consideration the fact that Google and a wide variety of other advertising networks also monetize developer's iOS apps.

The real difference between iOS apps and web pages is that Apple already restricts companies from distributing iOS adware titles or tracking users' location and device IDs within App Store titles, but didn't have a robust mechanism to similarly allow users to block annoying ads, cookies, tracking scripts and other content within Safari on iOS.

With Content Blockers, users will be able to selectively choose which sites they want to support and which content they don't want to keep seeing. That, in turn, is likely to push web publishers to dial back the amount of advertising they present, or to seek new, more effective ways to monetize their content.

This all happened before

A widespread user revolt against incessant, annoying ads wouldn't be anything new. In the 1980s, American broadcast television began cramming so much advertising into its content that users increasingly left for premium subscription channels or to watch prerecorded videos sold outright, rather than monetized by commercial interruptions.

bad ads


A decade later in the 1990s, efforts by Yahoo and Microsoft to blanket the emerging web (and the Windows 98 desktop) with annoying, animated ad banners and sponsored push content opened up an opportunity for the newly incorporated Google, which began offering simple, relevant text ads that users found easier to handle. Google rapidly devoured online ad market share. It subsequently acquired DoubleClick and became the very thing it once offered an alternative against.

In 2010, Steve Jobs introduced iAd, an effort to similarly replace annoying ads within apps with interactive ads users might actually want to explore, knowing they are easy to dismiss and wouldn't simply dump them out of their app to follow an external link.



Apple's latest Safari 9 App Extension efforts to put users in control of what content they load on the web expands upon existing user privacy settings in Safari that allowed individuals to opt out of "cookies and website data" from third party sites, or from any source.

In 2012, Google devised a method to subvert these settings to track users anyway, resulting in a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation that was settled with a $22.5 million fine paid to the FTC followed by a second state settlement of $17 million. Google still faces a class action lawsuit in the U.K., after losing its appeal to have the case dropped.

In the U.S., courts dismissed a parallel class action suit, agreeing with Google that consumers didn't suffer any monetary harm from being tracked against their will. That may turn out to be a pyrrhic victory if Google's disregard for consumer privacy continues to result in valuable consumer demographics migrating toward Apple platforms, motivated by concerns over how their private data and online behaviors are being captured, tracked and monetized.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    That's an excellent point about 75% of Google's mobile revenue coming from iOS. If Apple were to ship a Google Ads content blocker by default they could deal Google a serious blow overnight. Though it would probably quickly become a cat and mouse game in terms of getting around the blocker.

    Regarding the app/web distinction: there were a couple of things at WWDC which make apps more like the web. One was universal linking, which allows apps to link to other apps like sites link to other sites, another was On Demand Resource (ODR) which could potentially allow apps to load "page at a time" similar to how web sites do.

    I think the reason that iPad growth slowed was that some of it's best features: light weight and all day battery life, were added to Apple laptops. The point being that you don't need to replicate an entire thing to compete with it, just the best bits. In the same way, the linking and on-demand aspects of the web (some of it's strongest features) are now coming to apps.

    Edit: come to think of it, another major feature of the web is platform independence, and another thing Apple announced at WWDC was "Bitcode" - a way for developers to upload their apps in an architecture neutral format.
  • Reply 2 of 28
    My way of ”blocking ads“ on AppleInsider — was to get the iOS app subscription. For people like me, checking back with AI several times every day, this is great value for money.

    I absolutely love the clean look of AI on iPhone 6 Plus and iPad. Reading your long and excellent articles is a pleasure in such a well curated environment.
  • Reply 3 of 28
    davendaven Posts: 506member
    The video clip of Eric Schmidt is hilarious. On privacy he says that if you are concerned about people finding out about something you do maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.... Example given? His 'open' marriage that he tries to keep secret??? Lol
  • Reply 4 of 28
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,819member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post



    That's an excellent point about 75% of Google's mobile revenue coming from iOS. If Apple were to ship a Google Ads content blocker by default they could deal Google a serious blow overnight.

     

    Which the government could interpret as anti-competitive behavior? Not that it actually would be but the government seems to have put a bullseye target on Apple’s back recently. They are currently investigating the new music service before it even goes live. I personally think the government has decided that Apple has gotten too big for them to tolerate.

  • Reply 5 of 28
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 830member
    [quote]
    ...but also block invisible JavaScripts or other elements that web publishers or advertising networks use to track users and identify them across web properties.
    [/quote]

    Like AI's 80+ JavaScript trackers?
  • Reply 6 of 28
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

     

     

    Which the government could interpret as anti-competitive behavior? Not that it actually would be but the government seems to have put a bullseye target on Apple’s back recently. They are currently investigating the new music service before it even goes live. I personally think the government has decided that Apple has gotten too big for them to tolerate.




    Yes, it probably would attract antitrust attention. And Google could immediately retaliate by making YouTube, Gmail etc. not work on Safari, so I don't think it would actually happen.

  • Reply 7 of 28
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,819member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post

     



    Yes, it probably would attract antitrust attention. And Google could immediately retaliate by making YouTube, Gmail etc. not work on Safari, so I don't think it would actually happen.




    So why have the content blockers in the first place? And the first part of the article spends time discussing what might happen to websites that live or die by advertising dollars, sort of like the net-neutrality arguments. If all browsers include the capability to block ads how will the little guy survive on the meager ad-click income they depend on? To me it all boils down to the false premise about ‘free’ services, apps, cloud storage, and the like. There is NO such thing as free ANYTHING. You pay for those ‘free’ things one way or another, be it watching ads, giving up your shopping habits and other data, or learning to live with fewer features in an app or game unless you pay to unlock them. Advertisers aren’t stupid. If they see their ad money is wasted because everybody is blocking their ads they’ll take their money and go somewhere else. 

     

    Ad free content could mean charges for access. $9.99/mo here and there for individual services adds up really quickly. For me it’s already $8.49/mo Netflix, $9.99/mo for WWE Network (the only true sport left in America;)), $2.10/mo for iTunes Match. Then there’s cloud storage that actually means something, not 15 or 20 GB ‘free’. 

  • Reply 8 of 28
    lkrupp wrote: »

    So why have the content blockers in the first place? And the first part of the article spends time discussing what might happen to websites that live or die by advertising dollars, sort of like the net-neutrality arguments. If all browsers include the capability to block ads how will the little guy survive on the meager ad-click income they depend on?

    They can make money the old-fashioned way. If their site/content is good then they can make a deal with advertisers directly to sponsor their site. Just like magazines do (for example).

    Yes, you might lose a few good sites. But think how many garbage sites (like those that bash a company) will also disappear when they can no longer survive on hits generated by click-bait titles? Quality of content would go up when sites have to attract users through the material they present.
  • Reply 10 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,301member
    They can make money the old-fashioned way. If their site/content is good then they can make a deal with advertisers directly to sponsor their site. Just like magazines do (for example).

    Yes, you might lose a few good sites. But think how many garbage sites (like those that bash a company) will also disappear when they can no longer survive on hits generated by click-bait titles? Quality of content would go up when sites have to attract users through the material they present.
    They might. On the other hand some sites may be hesitant to bite the hand that feeds them and avoid articles that cast the ones paying the bill (and their paycheck) in a negative light. For instance if Microsoft were to become the major supporter of ArsTechnica, with the site in danger of losing money or failing if they were to stop, would you still trust them to be impartial?

    I've seen many posters here express doubts about the fairness of certain sites based simply on where their money comes from.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

     



    So why have the content blockers in the first place? And the first part of the article spends time discussing what might happen to websites that live or die by advertising dollars, sort of like the net-neutrality arguments. If all browsers include the capability to block ads how will the little guy survive on the meager ad-click income they depend on? 


    It's a good point. If you're going to consume somebody's service, you should probably consume it on their terms. I think the way ad-click sites could survive is by making an app, and it the app don't give the user any blocking tool.

     

    Or, if they want to stay on the web, well currently most sites send the article and then the ads gradually fill up the rest of the screen. Maybe the ads themselves could fetch the article, only once they're downloaded and running? But there will be ways around that too, it would just become an arms race between blockers and advertisers.

  • Reply 13 of 28
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,485member
    Does this also mean that I will be able to block all the ads that AI hits us with.

    I wil tell people, if you do not think this whole privacy things is not getting serious, let me share what happen to me just today.

    Yes we all know Google tracks your search activily and post ads which match what you are searching. Over the weekend I was on a website looking to buy a couple of items, I did not do a search for this stuff with google, and if I did I was using Bing. I believe I went directly to the website but I know i did not search the web for the specific items since I did not know what they were called ( I was looking for replacement parts for my roof rack). However the website I was on was a Google ad partner, not sure why a company who sells you products needs to adverstise for Google, but that is a different discussion. I look to buy 3 items and put the items in the shopping cart, but I never completed the transaction becuase I decided to hold off for now. I closed the browser, and went on my way. This morning on AI what do I see. a Google Ad for the website I was on yesterday, okay I get the connection, AI uses Google Ads and so did the other website and they made the connection seen that before.

    Here is the creepy part, the ad on AI for this other company actuall had the 3 specific items I had put in to my shopping cart which I did not actually buy showing up on the AI website.

    Google via of its Ads Partners now knows the specific items you are looking at or buying. I really do not want Google knowing the items I am looking at and buying. Imagine every store you shop in today recording ever item you pick up and put down and then telling their Advertising company who you are and the things you seem to be interested in so they can send you fliers in the mail later in the week.

    I know people have exchanged their privacy for a free email account from Google, however, I am not longer using Google products, therefore, I expact that Google is not spying on me. Now I have to worry about Google Ad partners who are now spying on me for Google.

    This is why Apple is doing all of this. Google has cross the line with gathering information about people.
  • Reply 14 of 28
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    They might. On the other hand some sites may be hesitant to bite the hand that feeds them and avoid articles that cast the ones paying the bill (and their paycheck) in a negative light. For instance if Microsoft were to become the major supporter of ArsTechnica, with the site in danger of losing money or failing if they were to stop, would you still trust them to be impartial?



    I've seen many posters here express doubts about the fairness of certain sites based simply on where their money comes from.

     

    This problem is nothing new, and content providers/advertisers have been dealing with it for 100+ years already without issue.

     

    The Internet is full of crap. It would be nice to cull off a large chunk of sites that don't really contribute anything. For example, I'm sick of doing a search for a specific topic, finding 1,000 sites in my results, and then seeing they are just reposts of the same original article/source. No new content, just the same thing repeated over and over with each site trying to cash in on hits.

     

    Googles method of advertising is a cancer and has directly resulted in a large portion of this activity (sites that exist purely to monetize hits any way they can, instead of sites trying to offer a quality product).

  • Reply 15 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post



    Does this also mean that I will be able to block all the ads that AI hits us with.



    I wil tell people, if you do not think this whole privacy things is not getting serious, let me share what happen to me just today.



    Yes we all know Google tracks your search activily and post ads which match what you are searching. Over the weekend I was on a website looking to buy a couple of items, I did not do a search for this stuff with google, and if I did I was using Bing. I believe I went directly to the website but I know i did not search the web for the specific items since I did not know what they were called ( I was looking for replacement parts for my roof rack). However the website I was on was a Google ad partner, not sure why a company who sells you products needs to adverstise for Google, but that is a different discussion. I look to buy 3 items and put the items in the shopping cart, but I never completed the transaction becuase I decided to hold off for now. I closed the browser, and went on my way. This morning on AI what do I see. a Google Ad for the website I was on yesterday, okay I get the connection, AI uses Google Ads and so did the other website and they made the connection seen that before.



    Here is the creepy part, the ad on AI for this other company actuall had the 3 specific items I had put in to my shopping cart which I did not actually buy showing up on the AI website.



    Google via of its Ads Partners now knows the specific items you are looking at or buying. I really do not want Google knowing the items I am looking at and buying. Imagine every store you shop in today recording ever item you pick up and put down and then telling their Advertising company who you are and the things you seem to be interested in so they can send you fliers in the mall later in the week.



    I know people have exchanged their privacy to a free email count from Google, however, I am not longer using Google products therefore, I expact that Google is not spying on me. Now I have to worry about Google Ad partners are now spying on me for Google.



    This is why Apple is doing all of this. Google has cross the line with gathering information about people.

     

    WOW.

     

    Literally had the exact same thing happen this morning. Yesterday was our company family day and I won a Bose speaker system as one of the door prizes. Later I went online to Bose.com to browse their speakers and see details of my "prize". This morning, the EXACT speaker system I won appeared in an ad here on AI. I should have took a screenshot, but didn't see you post.

     

    And this from browsing at Bose themselves, not some partner site or other retailer.

  • Reply 16 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,301member
    maestro64 wrote: »
    Does this also mean that I will be able to block all the ads that AI hits us with.

    I wil tell people, if you do not think this whole privacy things is not getting serious, let me share what happen to me just today.

    Yes we all know Google tracks your search activily and post ads which match what you are searching. Over the weekend I was on a website looking to buy a couple of items, I did not do a search for this stuff with google, and if I did I was using Bing. I believe I went directly to the website but I know i did not search the web for the specific items since I did not know what they were called ( I was looking for replacement parts for my roof rack). However the website I was on was a Google ad partner, not sure why a company who sells you products needs to adverstise for Google, but that is a different discussion. I look to buy 3 items and put the items in the shopping cart, but I never completed the transaction becuase I decided to hold off for now. I closed the browser, and went on my way. This morning on AI what do I see. a Google Ad for the website I was on yesterday, okay I get the connection, AI uses Google Ads and so did the other website and they made the connection seen that before.

    Here is the creepy part, the ad on AI for this other company actuall had the 3 specific items I had put in to my shopping cart which I did not actually buy showing up on the AI website.

    Google via of its Ads Partners now knows the specific items you are looking at or buying.
    That's called retargeting. FWIW several big mobile/web ad placement companies offer it. Apple does it too now.

    EDIT: Retargeting was added in iOS8. It's discussed in this presentation Apple invited advertisers too at last years WWDC
    http://asciiwwdc.com/2014/sessions/510
  • Reply 17 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,301member
    WOW.

    Literally had the exact same thing happen this morning. Yesterday was our company family day and I won a Bose speaker system as one of the door prizes. Later I went online to Bose.com to browse their speakers and see details of my "prize". This morning, the EXACT speaker system I won appeared in an ad here on AI. I should have took a screenshot, but didn't see you post.

    And this from browsing at Bose themselves, not some partner site or other retailer.
    I thought you used Ghostery or some other ad blocker?
  • Reply 18 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    I thought you used Ghostery or some other ad blocker?

     

    I'm at work. Which is why it surprised me. Even more so to find that I was tracked by visiting Bose.com. I'm actually seriously pissed at this. I EXPECT to get tracked if I search for something at google.com. I even expect to get tracked if I visit a company website (like Bose) for their own internal use. But I don't expect to visit Bose and then have my browsing habits FORWARDED to Google.

     

    Until today I never knew this existed. I'm so used to seeing ads for things I've searched for that I no longer think twice about it. But to me, this is a too much. Until I read Maestro64's post, it never occurred to me that websites could take my information and also pass it to Google. If I hadn't read his post, then I might simply think I searched for Bose speakers online and would still be blind to the fact this data gathering is happening.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    That's called retargeting. FWIW several big mobile/web ad placement companies offer it. Apple does it too now.

     

    Yet I never seem to get ads for iPhones, iPads or MacBooks in websites I visit. But I have seen ads for things like Digital Storage Ocilloscopes from Keysight and Tektronix (an obscure product), high output switching power supplies or signal generators. Things I often search for while at work. Funny how that works. Even here at AI I see more ads for oscilloscopes than I do for Apple products.

  • Reply 19 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,301member
    I'm at work. Which is why it surprised me. Even more so to find that I was tracked by visiting Bose.com. I'm actually seriously pissed at this. I EXPECT to get tracked if I search for something at google.com. I even expect to get tracked if I visit a company website (like Bose) for their own internal use. But I don't expect to visit Bose and then have my browsing habits FORWARDED to Google.
    Did you check to see if the ad was placed by Google on the sites behalf? There's thousands of companies out there placing ads and not all are Google. In fact on mobile it's almost as likely to be Facebook if stats are right.

    BTW, since you are at work could it have come from your own company's product search?

    http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Driven-by-Facebook-Google-Mobile-Ad-Market-Soars-10537-2013/1010690
  • Reply 20 of 28
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,485member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    That's called retargeting. FWIW several big mobile/web ad placement companies offer it. Apple does it too now.

    EDIT: Retargeting was added in iOS8. It's discussed in this presentation Apple invited advertisers too at last years WWDC
    http://asciiwwdc.com/2014/sessions/510

    I just read that, I am not 100% sure it one and the same, I understand about being able to re-enage with a customer you are doing business with and this has been around away it is just their ability to show you abs about a company you have engage with. In my case it has gotten as specific as the items I did not even buy, I have seen ads from company I visited their website but the ads were not specific to anything I bought or even looked at. They have taken this to the next level and this is a recent thing.
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