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How to See What the Internet Knows About You (nytimes.com)
310 points by alexkavon 135 days ago | hide | past | web | 101 comments | favorite



These companies know "more about your life than you do", but yet the targeted ads continue to be pretty useless. The ad on this site was an Amazon ad for a pool filter I bought on Amazon about a week ago. It should know that I don't need these for like another year now. The other was for a cruise which I just got back from last week. Maybe some after-sun lotion or something vehicle related for the fact I drove 6 hours each way? The ads I always see just never seem that smart given the terabytes of data that everyone supposedly has on me. They really just seem to reflect my search history.


The purpose of these ads is not to sell you stuff. Its to sell advertising to companies that don't understand this internet stuff but are terrified of being "left behind". The ads need to be plausible, thats why someone has to see them, but who that is literally doesn't matter.


Ad companies make money based on clicks, not views. It's in their interest to make them interesting enough to click on.


_Some_ ad companies make their money on clicks. Others charge per impression, and others charge per acquisition.


I don't think that's true, because who is clicking on these ads for things they already own?


Another alternative is that perhaps people are clicking on ads for things they already own. I mean, let's say there's a 1/5000 chance that a random person is going to buy a SDXC card. You go ahead and buy one. After the purchase, statistically does your likelihood of buying another SDXC go up or down? For some people, they've fulfilled their SDXC quota, so now their likelihood is zero. For other people, they may be in the market for SD cards generally, so they will be more likely to make a second purchase than a random person. Or, after having bought one, they'll want to buy another one as a gift. Or they're looking to return the original and buy a cheaper one at a sale price. Just the fact that they have equipment that takes SDXC cards means they're more likely to buy another one than a random person.

Same thing with a pool filter even. If you live in an apartment, or if you're a minor, or you don't own a pool, your chances of buying a pool filter are extremely low. So the fact that you just bought a pool filter puts you in the narrow group of people who would potentially have need for another pool filter. Even though you just bought one, you're still more likely to be a customer than a random person. Hence, generally speaking, sending you ads for the same thing you just bought may be a rational choice for the advertiser.


An intelligent advertising engine would know the typical interval between two purchases of the same product, and start advertising similar products just before that interval has elapsed since the last purchase.

Examples:

  pool filter: 12 months
  reptile UV lamp: 6 months
  gift-wrapping paper: 12 months
  oil filter, recycling box, 5 qt oil: 4 months
  8-ct paper towel rolls: 2 months
  television: 4 years
  automobile: 10 years
  magazine subscriptions: 1 year
  tacos: every Tuesday


Indeed, but this engine doesn't exist, and in 15+ years of weaponised adtech, noone's been sufficiently economically incentivised to make it. Telling, no?


You're underestimating how hard it would be to build such an engine. Google and Facebook have sunk $billions into their knowledge graphs so far, and not made much of a dent.


Maybe. The current heuristic is "he has bought X so show him an ad for X", but would it be so difficult to flip that to "he has bought X so show him the next thing on the list of interests we know he has" or even just "anything but X". I strongly suspect noone is doing this because there is no point, they get paid the same regardless.


That's not the current heuristic; it's not nearly that simple.

Think about how you know if someone is interested in something. What does it mean to be interested? How does that translate into a sale?

A person just bought a vacuum cleaner. Does that mean they are interested in vacuum cleaners? Are vacuum cleaners things that people get interested in? Do people who are interested in vacuum cleaners buy more than people who are not interested in vacuum cleaners?

To us these answers are so obvious that it's humorous. To a computer, not so much.

There are many millions of interests, opinions, and things to buy--so count the combinations. We understand it all intuitively because we are adult humans with decades of experience in this society.

This is why search and ad companies hire so many AI researchers.

EDIT: to understand the financial incentives, see my other reply to you. In a PPC ecosystem it is better to match too greedily than to risk missing a customer ready to buy.


Amazon already does this. It is called "People who purchased this item also purchased this item"


That's the intuition, but I wonder if there isn't a spike in near-term repurchase behavior that the algorithms are correctly exploiting?

Ex: I bought a vacuum, but I'm unhappy with it. I bought a pool or oil filter, but it was the wrong one. I bought an X, but it was defective. I bought an 8-ct of paper towels because I run a cleaning service or property management company and use a lot of paper towels. I bought a pair of jeans and they're the wrong size or I bought a pair of jeans and they're exactly the right size and now I want to order 3 more pair so I can have the ones I like.

Years ago, we built a conditional offer engine and the humans operating it kept complaining that it was "broken" because it was suggesting non-sensical combinations. In split-run, those non-sensical combinations were clear winners, even if the humans couldn't get comfortable with them.


In the cases you provide, though, it seems to me (and I am certainly no expert) that you wouldn't need to advertise the same item again. If I bought a vacuum that I'm unhappy with, showing me another ad for it (which is what Amazon does) is the wrong thing to do. Not only will I not buy the same machine again, but I will google and research the products- I will ignore ads unless they are offering me a discount on the one I decide on. Likewise for wrong-sized jeans or buying three more pair.


Acxiom has done this in a more invasive way for decades: figure out women's menstrual cycle and then mail them ads when they will be most likely to make a purchase according to prior research.


You've got to think beyond the computer. Most big companies pay per ad view, not per click. Per click is for the low-end advertisers. Per action is for bottom-feeders.

Think about billboards, TV, radio, and magazines. Can't click on any of them, yet hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on them every year because repeating the brand, logo, visual, or message works. There's a reason McDonald's and Coca-Cola advertise heavily. It works.


I strongly disagree about your CPM/PPC/CPA categorization.

I work on conversion focused ad campaigns, so YMMV. For conversions, obviously CPA and PPC are superior. I do agree that CPA can be bottom feeders, but PPC is probably the bread and butter of most people I know.

I would suggest that most big companies are paying their agencies, who like pay per view because they can spend more without direct accountability like Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Their job is easier without having to prove their efforts work.

Grain of salt and all. I'm also a guy who has yet to see proof that a branding campaign has value. (It may lift sales, but is it the most effective use of those dollars? Doubtful.)


Why is CPA for bottom feeders. What do you mean by that? Seems like the perfect way to optimize the funnel if you know exactly what you're after (an "acquisition").


No one, of course.

The problem isn't 100% negative matching (ads shown only to people who already own the thing), the problem is greedy pattern matching (ads shown to anyone who might possibly be interested). That ends up matching against people who want the thing, and people who just got the thing.

And that's not really that bad for advertisers because they only pay for the clicks. People who don't want it (perhaps because they just bought it) just won't click.

It is only a "problem" for the ad platform, in terms of the efficient use of inventory. In theory a poorly matched ad is displacing a better targeted ad that would perform better and make the platform more money.

But practically speaking it is only a competitive disadvantage if your targeting is worse than competing platforms. Even if the targeting leaves a lot be desired, if it is even a little better than everyone else, you'll still land contracts and make money.


How does that explain Amazon ads? They should actually want to make a sale, right?


Amazon is a marketplace/platform more than it is a direct seller at this point. The ads they're showing you were likely purchased by sellers, possibly including other sellers of the product you purchased (if you were shopping around).


Depends. They might want to to get you to come back and write a review/buy additional stuff.

On the other hand, this could be an affiliate that tries to generate any click so he gets a commission on your further purchases.


Whether it's Amazon wanting a customer to take additional action or an affiliate trying to drive traffic, relevant retargeting is much more effective than non-relevant.

And from the affiliate's perspective, interfacing to good retargeting is just as easy as interfacing to bad. That is, it's a black box owned and managed by Amazon.


I'm asking for something even more basic from ad targeting: as a Canadian, with a Canadian IP address, don't advertise products/services to me that are US-only.

You'd think the web advertising industry would at least figure out how to never show me an ad for Hulu or Blue Apron, seeing how those companies don't do business outside the US so the ROI on having me click that is zero.


Ah, but they are "building brand awareness" (or who knows, maybe even legitimately testing the waters to see if they want to expand to Canada).


Nobody from the US ever visits Canada? This is a good example of how the spotlight effect combines with confirmation bias to make advertising look awful. All algorithms like this are going to have false positive rates, if their most successful ads are the ones shown to Americans in Canada should they stop because sometimes Canadians see them and are annoyed by them?


It's doubtful that the most successful ads are ones specifically shown to Americans in Canada, and the number of Americans in Canada at any given time is probably very insignificant compared to the number of Canadians in Canada.

It really does seem like a boneheaded advertising strategy to market yourself to a consumer audience when the overwhelming majority of them can't pay for your products, and when it's presumably easy to screen that audience out by IP address.


Reverse IP lookup is far from perfect when it comes to location identification. Also if you've recently travelled to the US wouldn't be out of the question to have a cookie set with that location info.


The seemingly lack of intelligence isn't due to them being ineffective, but rather being effective at a task you weren't necessarily evaluating.

The key difference between marketing and advertising is that marketing is advertising with the added intent of creating a sale to the person viewing the advertisement - advertising directly to their target market.

Advertising is more about brand awareness and viral marketing. You bought a pool filter and won't need one for another year, but you probably have friends/live near/know people who may be in the market for a pool filter, and if they ask you about buying one, the brand awareness may encourage you to suggest that brand, even though you may not have used it yet or no anything else about other brands - which is another key benefit.

Essentially, advertising has a 2-tier benefit. Firstly, it solidifies brand awareness, and secondly, it takes up space that would have gone to a competitor. Now the cost of competing is that much higher, because in order to get your business a competitor would need to invest in a superior product and invest in bringing awareness to you.

"If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it's stupid."


One of the points of advertising is to get you to recognize the brand, so that in the future when you shop for similar products you'll think of theirs as a familiar brand (even tough you may have no memory of ever having seen their ads).

Ads also often get you to associate positive feelings with the brand or product. Again, this might not result in directly buying the product right away, but next time you think of it, you'll be more likely to buy it than if you never saw the ad.


Hint: they don't care. It works well enough.

I use remarketing and it definitely annoys some people and they complain that I'm following them around. But you know what? They buy. Without remarketing they forget.

I would love to turn it off after they do buy, but it's too hard to configure and hey, it reminds them to actually use the thing they bought. Customers are great, but only users tell their friends,


Your comment explains something crucial about targeted advertising that other people often fail to understand. The ad tech companies provide a platform for advertising, but it is up to the user (the advertiser) to configure and use the platform correctly. Often, advertisers may configure their targeting in ways that are suboptimal. Or, their e-commerce platform may not be properly set up to record conversions and associate them with targets. (Depending on the platform, they may not even have that option.)

Poorly configured ad targeting happens just as often as poorly configured firewalls, servers, Wordpress installs, cloud deployments, etc... probably more often since the consequences aren't as dire.

(Not a fan of targeted ads either, but I often see people complaining about post-purchase targeted ads as if this is a universal problem. So much depends on the specific platforms involved, the skill levels and intentions of the many different ad buyers on each platform, and so on. Results will vary.)


The better ad would market the product your friend just bought to you. The privacy concerns are enormous, but regardless, the data is there today and I'd be surprised if it isn't already at work.


Facebook has a "People who liked your page and their friends" audience option for ads.

Another great one is "lookalike audience based on LTV". So you only advertise to people who are like your biggest customers.


> These companies know "more about your life than you do", but yet the targeted ads continue to be pretty useless

It always amuses me when Facebook reminds me that it was my wife's birthday the previous day. A real AI would alert me at least a week in advance!


I used to think the same but I've read recently the rationale as follows: apparently, you're most likely to buy a pool filter just after you bought one, because maybe the one you bought broke, or you don't like it, or whatever else, and you need a new one.

Not sure how much truth is there behind it, but maybe there's a bit. Obviously, it does not apply much to the cruise though.


I live in Belgium with 2 main languages, Dutch and French. YouTube still shows me French adds, while I speak Dutch.


A local grocery store has a points card that bases its offers on prior purchases, and suffers from the problem that you identified. I have often wondered if it would be practical to turn the tables by making a token purchase just before an anticipated sale, then reaping the rewards the following week.


It shows that even with huge inefficiencies web ads are making tons of money for all the major players both supply and demand (sorry bloggers). Amazon and Google are well aware of the problem and working on it to some extent but I guess there are bigger fish to fry in the meantime.


You confuse "slightly imperfect" with "useless"


I recently got tired of all the creepy targeted advertising, so I hit the nuclear option. Turned off all targeted ads on all social networks, cleared all cookies, all search histories, and installed the Disconnect Chrome extension. Also disabled all images in my email to stop those email trackers. I've always used an ad-blocker but I don't think that stops the data collection aspects of it.

I've always known this is happening and previously I didn't care because you figure if you are going to get advertised to, why not make it relevant, right? Well, it's more complex than that, here are the problems I have with this kind of data tracking:

1. Data can we used against you in ways you might not understand or have considered. 2. It's a waste of money and resources. Think of all the extra bandwidth, server space, human time, that is spent on just trying to sell people more shit. 3. I don't like the idea of people making money off my data without my knowledge. 4. Targeted ads might distract me and cause me to waste extra time online.

Bottom line -- I have a moral objection to the whole idea of it, and will do everything I can do stop it.


By the way, some of the trackers may still be able to track you:

https://panopticlick.eff.org/

(which does not even include all of the potential methods of browser fingerprinting)

Hopefully over time Disconnect, Privacy Badger, and other tools will be able to recognize and interfere with or block a lot of these methods. I'm not sure what I think the long-term prognosis is.


> I recently got tired of all the creepy targeted advertising, so I hit the nuclear option.

Credit cards, mortgage providers, retail stores, and car dealers all sell customer information on the open market. Every cell phone company out there knows what provider you have, stores knows what type of clothing you like to buy.

Wiping your computer clean prevents the ads from appearing on your PC, but the tracking of you is still taking place.


What are some ways in which you can prevent this sort of real life tracking from happening or at least minimize it?


Pay cash. Don't identify yourself, unless legally required. Maybe use an alias. As much as possible, buy from local businesses. Or through informal marketplaces. If you really care, travel a few hours by car before shopping. And keep your phone off, in a Faraday bag.


Pay cash ?


I tried it a couple years ago with Google and once targeted ads were off, I would get many ads about gay dating sites. Once I turned targeted ads on again, these ads disappeared.


I had a similar experience, but it was single women, and there was no way to ask Google to stop showing me those types of ads. At the very least allow me to block adult advertisements. Maybe it's on purpose...


With me it is retirement planning... I am in that age range. I've just taken to either switching javascript off or using one of those hosts files that blocks most stuff.


Maybe no-one ever made that call, and it's all just based on the results of continously running automated and fuzzed A/B experiments.


Bah. I hate their attempts at targeting, either way.

I normally don't see ads (NoScript, JS usually off). But when I do I sometimes see ads targeted at teenage girls (i.e. my kids). If the trackers can't get any info about me personally, they probably just default to analyzing other traffic from my shared IP address.


I tried turning off targeted Google ads on my phone, and got only the worst ads possible from then on. Like, 100% strobing "YOUR PHONE HAS 37 VIRUSES, CLICK HERE TO CLEAN". Eventually I had to turn it back because ad-supported apps are nearly unusable with strobing banners at the bottom, which I'm sure was Google's intent.


Have you considered paying for the apps you use, or using open source apps (such as from F-Droid) that don't include ads?


Many apps don't have paid versions, only ad-supported, and even more apps don't have open-source equivalents. I'm sure you're aware of this.


I use an iPhone, although I have used Android many years ago (purely because of open source convictions), and I didn't know this. God, it's awful. I try very hard to use only paid apps on iOS even if there are free apps because I don't want to support the data-mining industry (not that paid apps can't participate in it, but at least I hope it's less likely).

Most apps cost less than a coffee, and personally I get more value out of the apps I use than from a cup of overpriced coffee.


install something like 3C, root your phone, disable all the analytics/ad-services from individual apps; also installing something like AdAway will block most ads via the Host file


Only ever open in airplane mode!


> 1. Data can we used against you in ways you might not understand or have considered.

> 3. I don't like the idea of people making money off my data without my knowledge

Ditto.

Collecting massive amounts of intrusive data can lead to regulation, possibly intrusive. An (extreme) example of this is in 1984, where the data collect Oceania does (i.e., telescreens) allows them to control the population.


Michael Bazzell is an expert on (both sides of) Open Source Intelligence (OSINT: data collected from publicly available sources).

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Bazzell/e/B007GNUI92/

He maintains a virtual machine "pre-configured for online investigators" and a podcast.

https://inteltechniques.com/buscador/index.html


Thank you. Never seen this before - just ordered one of his books.


>start with this neat and medium-scary site, which our friends at Gizmodo flagged, that shows you everything your browser knows about you the second you open it. (clickclickclick.click)

"Subject has entered the website. Subject has 4 cores..." followed by a bunch of notes about my mouse moving around, or me making the window inactive.

Hardly terrifying.


> Here’s another one.

The second link that follows that one (http://webkay.robinlinus.com/) really terrified me. I had no idea my private network hosts (192.168.X.X) or my private IP address could be scanned by a random webpage. Or the fact that the webpage could find out my laptop was charging with x% percent charge in real time, or the make and model of my machine and GPU. The geo location accuracy of my ip was also scarily accurate. All this when running in incognito with ad blockers. That is very close to being PII.


Thanks for this link, reminded me to install noscript on my Android/Firefox install!


no script's not very useful anymore for desktop, you need something like uMatrix for the modern web


I researched and installed uMatrix immediately, but (due respect to the creator) the application is so hard to use and broke several web pages. I also installed WebRTC Leak Prevent Tool that helped a little.



Citation needed.


Although very fun. It also grabs way more data as time goes on. And it's a pretty interesting little art project.


Have I been pwned[0] is missing from this list, and is an awesome tool to check whether some of your information have leaked in the past.

Passwords are, in my opinion, way more valuable than browser history.

[0]: https://haveibeenpwned.com/


Thanks for this site. I think the Snapchat breach finally explains why I've been getting so many scam phone calls in the past few years.


Is the issue ad targeting, or data collection?

For me it's the latter. This is what Google thinks I like: http://imgur.com/a/g8Q7l - reasonably accurate, and I don't care if it's public or used for targeting non-intrusive ads. I like those topics, I buy things, go ahead and show me your products.

My objection is over the data used to learn those interests. I don't want Google tracking my search and page views across the internet, I don't want my credit card company tracking my purchase history, and I certainly don't want my ISP/phone provider tracking my "metadata".

I feel like this article glossed over that aspect. Google's "Ad Personalization" page controls what Google uses, not what it knows. In this age of state, corporate, and foreign surveillance/hacking, I'm far more concerned about the latter.


Why is targeted advertising acceptable? it is not ok for a seller to stalk potential buyers.

I get that everyone has accepted this as a "fact of life" but consider how TV advertising was done. The advertisement is tailored to the show you are watching and the time of day.

In other words, if I'm on a tech blog, advertise to me tech products, if I'm reading a cooking recipe, advertise kitchenware,grocery delivery and the like.

As a consumer, I am more likely to remember an advertised product if the AD is within the context of the web page I'm visiting.

Target pages not users! not even as precise as I mentioned above but statistical approximations can be made, much like with TV ads (for example, "ycombinator visitors are likely to buy artisnal cookware compared to people visiting nytimes" )

The problem at the end of the day is that users in general don't like to be tracked. some may sacrfice the privacy for the convenince but most will prefer if the sacrifice wasn't neccesary.

I think better advertising solutions are what is needed. It is unfortunate how much money is instead spent on technology to stalk users, as if using a complex computer system makes it more accpetable or ethical.


I definitely agree. And for some reason your comment reminded me of something a sales guy who used to work for a fairly large online company told me. He said the way they see it, is that it's similar to a company sending out kiosks to a bunch of different stores to offer samples. They aren't really trying to make a ton of sales at those kiosks, they are mainly after the demographic info about the customers who seemed most interested, and the stores they got the most hits at.

While I see what he was getting at, I think it is a somewhat weak analogy because if those kiosk people were like online ads, then on top of just keeping track of visible statistics like age, race, gender, etc. They would be also snooping around your purse or wallet, tracking where you came from, car you drive, etc. and then bundling all that data from all the kiosks to sell to some other company for marketing purposes.

I never really felt like arguing back with him because he's a sales person and I'm terrible at that, but it really didn't surprise me too much that they would think its just as innocuous as the Pepperidge Farm guy offering cheese samples at a grocery store.


TV ads are overpriced garbage, spray and pray. YT is getting into the TV business to show you targeted ads. You clearly are unaware of the motivations of the ad industry and advertisers... we want to know everything about consumers, so the ad can hit them at the right moment in time and/or influence you to do our bidding.

The whole target pages, not people...that's the old way of advertising and the performance is garbage. It's better to find people, whenever they are on the web -- within reason -- whenever they may be exhibiting any sort of buying intent.

Block the ads, scripts and cookies etc., if you don't want to be tracked digitally. Ad targeting will only improve.


"so the ad can hit them at the right moment in time and/or influence you to do our bidding."

... yet they can't, not in a million years. And yet we sold our privacy so that they could barely attempt something.


I'm fine with certain kinds of targeted advertising.

For example, if I search for "subaru" on Google, it makes sense for the ads on the page to be for cars and local car dealers.

Other than that, I think the online ad industry is almost entirely built on lies and half-truths. Ads support a lot of sites I visit, but I think what it costs me (in computer resources and loss of privacy) is no longer reasonable. I run with an ad blocker all the time now. Mostly I object to the tracking, not the ads.


TV advertising was targeted too. They used Nielsen data to identify potential audience (white males, 40-50 y.o., middle class income) and show ads targeting this demo.


TV ads targetted demographics not individuals. I'm fine with that,that's actually what I'm promoting. targetting of demographics based on the content being viewed (as oppose to tracking information on the individual viewing it)


Anecdote: I'm having dinner last night with a couple at their house and I'm advising one of them about getting an appliance for her partner - so we browse some options on her cellphone together and find something suitable.

Perhaps 30 minutes later, her partner was on his cellphone and gets an ad for the same appliance, he let us know because it was something he had been wanting. They were both on the same IP address via the router. While they initially had a good laugh, it was supposed to be a surprise.

It really did annoy me and when I explained what was happening they found it equally amusing and frightening. I am pretty sure both of them went to bed that night worried that the other was going to be getting ads for things they might be looking at on the internet.


Most of what the article complains about can be solved with an ad blocker. The rest by staying off of Facebook.


Staying off Facebook means committing social semi-suicide for a lot of people.

It's the primary channel for my local community, contacting local elected representatives, family members in distant places, and several sociopolitical communities of which I'm a part. For many people it's a necessity, and other channels like email etc. are far less efficient precisely because they don't leverage the networking effects.

This advise is like telling someone who's worried about toxins in their food to eat less of it.


> It's the primary channel for my local community, contacting local elected representatives,

Which should be recognised as madness in itself. Hopefully you're mistaken, and it's merely one such channel.


'Primary' implies at least a secondary, not a unity.

My local councilmember tends to respond within minutes or hours to community concerns raised through Facebook, vsa day or longer via email. Given the democratic nature of the position, being speedily accessible/accountable via social media seems entirely appropriate, not to mention efficient.

I don't like that the dominant social media platform is a privately owned commercial operation, but absent an accessible federated open source social media tool with significant network effects, that's what we've got.


Yes, I think Facebook being the primary channel - however many others there are - is mad.


> This advise is like telling someone who's worried about toxins in their food to eat less of it.

Which, depending on toxicity, is exactly appropriate.

You're arguing that there are no options, but that's clearly not correct.


No it isn't. The appropriate response is to maintain quality of supply, not to passively accept the existence of substandard food.

I am not arguing that there are no options, and I don't know what point you aimed to make by suggesting that.


I generally consider targeted ads to be relatively harmless, with one major recent exception:

I'm starting to shop for an engagement ring, but since I live with my GF I have to do online research in Incognito mode so ads don't ruin what I hope to be a surprise someday.

File this under "things peeps didn't have to worry about 10-15 years ago"


Careful, 'incognito' mode doesn't store cookies, but it's not a VPN, or otherwise masking your IP address or location.

(Obviously, it also doesn't stop tracking based on being logged into a Google account either for example, but I assume you thought of that!)


This site also goes into a lot of detail about the digital tracks you leave online, and how to minimize them: https://myshadow.org/


  Please sign in to see what 
  the internet knows about 
  you.
Uh, actually, that's what I tell the internet about myself, for the most part.

It doesn't really impress me when I approach the internet and introduce myself by name. Of course the internet is going to remember me, if I permit my cookies and request parameters and IP address linger.

Much more interesting is when the internet makes my identity without my having volunteered anything.

Oh well.


Adversaries only know what you let them. But this article does little more than rehash well-known clickbait. And it offers little useful coaching.


" The ad on this site was an Amazon ad for a pool filter I bought on Amazon about a week ago. It should know that I don't need these for like another year now. The other was for a cruise which I just got back from last week. "

Advertising isn't just about what you really need, but also about what you will need more, or again, or earlier, because the commercial impressed the product need in your head. Neuromarketing is a science nowadays, and is pretty scary to me.

Some interesting content on the topic here. http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/home


It seems so strange to me that there is such an ever increasing push to get people to click ads when I can't tell you a single person I know that ever actually clicks one on purpose. If I see an ad for something I just search it instead because I don't trust ads..

Except for one time years ago when I saw an ad on my own site for a drawing tablet and getting my account suspended for cheating even though I actually bought the tablet. Decided then I'm never gonna do ads on any of my sites.

I think the advertisers care more about about manipulating companies to buy ads than actually increasing that companies sales.


It sounds tautological, but ads are designed for the type of people that click ads. This is a far larger portion of the population than you might think. For example, consider that the first 3 links on a search page receive over 50% of all clicks. The first 5 links receive 67% of all clicks. Only 9% of all users view the second page of search results.


I have clicked ads. A lot of people do- if they're relevant and right there we click them.


Oh yeah, I definitely know people do. There wouldn't be so much advertising out there if visitors didn't click them.

I'm just generally a little overly suspicious about ads because they can be 'phishy'. That and, like others have commented already, the ads i see are for things I recently bought so I have no need to buy them again soon.


I find it interesting that the internet is talked about as a monolithic entity. Rather than as a bunch of different services and communities.


Here's my "completely not ergonomic but entirely satisfying if silent protest is your thing" solution:

- NoScript [0], First defence. Breaks 30% of sites, but you can selectively enable local scripts to ameliorate that.

- Self-Destructing Cookies [1], We all need cookies for logging in to things and etc..., but once we've closed the tab, we shouldn't have to keep those cookies with us. This means you have to log-in more often, but I prefer that. Prevents people from seeing your email/facebook/etc... when you're still logged in.

- uBlock Origin [2], You'll occasionally need to allow scripts you don't like because they're required for the proper presentation of the website. In those cases, you can depend on uBlock to get rid of awful trackers.

- HTTPSEverywhere [3], Because snoopers aren't always outside your network.

- DuckDuckGo as default search engine [4] and not-Google Chrome as your default browser, At the very least, you're not supporting the worst privacy offender on the net.

- Non-ad-supported/privacy-oriented service. In the paid category (recommended), I suggest mailbox.org, due to their track record and founding principles. In the free(-ish) category, ProtonMail.ch and tutanota.com.

- Clear Cookies/History on Browser Exit

- Forbid Third-Party Cookies

- And because I believe in magical faeries, DoNotTrack set to True

[0] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/noscript/?src...

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/self-destruct...

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/ublock-origin...

[3] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/https-everywh...

[4] https://duckduckgo.com


Why is this on HN lol


We've banned this account for repeatedly violating the guidelines. We're happy to unban accounts if you email us at hn@ycombinator.com and we believe you'll post civilly and substantively in the future.


HN people might want to share some of these test sites to their non-technical friends.




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