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This 113 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 113 ( 1 [2] 3 4 > >     
ISPs to insert their own ads into websites
GeorgeK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 8:10 pm on May 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

Here's a story that should concern every web publisher, especially AdSense users:

[blog.wired.com...]
[connect.charter.com...]

Often, when you surf the Internet, the advertisements you see have
little or no relevance to you or your interests. As a result of this
enhancement, Charter can display advertisements that are more likely
to be related to your interests. You will not see more ads, but some
of the ads you see will be more relevant to you.

I'm astonished. How is this any different from the postal service ripping out all the magazine ads and replacing them with their own ads before they get delivered to your house?

With the "deep packet inspection" technologies, conceivably ISPs can just replace, in real-time, our Google AdSense publisher IDs with their own. Or, they could simply replace the entire Google AdSense Javascript snippet with something else.

I would hope that Google and other large advertising networks lead the charge against this, and that they are not partnered with any ISPs involved in this activity. A large class action lawsuit on behalf of publishers might slap sense into any ISPs using this "enhancement" to steal revenues from legitimate publishers.

This needs to be stopped.

[edited by: jatar_k at 5:13 pm (utc) on May 14, 2008]
[edit reason] better link [/edit]

 

zett

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 7:46 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Andy,

just let a few big wigs sue those ISPs, and we'll see this trend dying down quickly. They just can't afford it.

I can not imagine ANY judge deciding in favor of a service that cuts the content owners' revenue stream by replacing ads. Not in the U.S., not in the U.K., not anywhere in the western world.

Especially in the U.S., this can be really really expensive. It will be fun to watch that ISP struggling and finally dying.

Receptional Andy



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 7:53 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I can not imagine ANY judge deciding in favor of a service that cuts the content owners' revenue stream by replacing ads

IMO replacing ads is a different and less defensible case. But ISPs seem to mostly want to add their own ads, not replace publishers' advertising. There has been nothing clear about placement, size and so on, but we are likely to see it.

In the UK, data privacy laws are pretty clear, and yet this type of system is looming towards reality. I'd say that ISP advertising is pretty much an inevitability at this point. The comparable issue is net neutrality, which for whatever reason seems to have attracted much wider debate.

johnnie

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 8:16 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry, but there's no way this ordinary thievery is going to live in court.

Key_Master

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 8:16 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

From the Wired article:

But Schremp says Charter isn't affecting other companies' websites or inserting their own ads, and is instead benefiting the ad networks by helping them target customers better.

If they're not replacing advertisements with their own, and they're not inserting their own additional advertising into the pages, and the advertising is more targeted, then wouldn't this be a good thing for websites owners and a bag thing for Charter's subscribers?

Even in a worse case scenario, webmasters could come up with a way to circumvent their "enhancements". We did it with Gator and countless toolbar schemes. I don't think the ISPs could stop us either.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 8:30 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

OK, looks like some misconceptions are going on here.

I read the Phorm site and it appears they are using the ISPs to create the tracking data that they then sell to the advertising companies, so theoretically you're still running the ads, just better targeted, and the ISP makes money in the middle helping improve the targeting.

However, Phorm's claim of total anonymity is nuts because that cookie and the IP can be linked up by any site they visit so unless I'm missing something, it's still the same old privacy problems at the end of the day.

GeorgeK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 8:41 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I read the Phorm site and it appears they are using the ISPs to create the tracking data that they then sell to the advertising companies, so theoretically you're still running the ads, just better targeted, and the ISP makes money in the middle helping improve the targeting.

For now, that might be the case, but if you consider what's possible with deep packet inspection, it becomes a slippery slope....the examples above with Rogers inserting HTML on 3rd party publisher pages to communicate with their clients or that Texas ISP would be the greater concern, if that's where things are headed.

When ISPs look at the huge potential profits in replacing ads with their own, relative to the marginal benefits from slightly improved ad targeting (which is unproven as many others have tried and failed with behavioural targeting), the temptation will certainly arise for some ISPs to test where the "line" is....

Furthermore, suppose the "Phorm" usage is deemed "legitimate." Then NebuAd or similar systems can argue "we only sell/license these systems to ISPs --- what they do with them is out of our hands" -- a stronger argument than folks like Napster tried to make. if this a backdoor to creating Gator 2.0, folks should be concerned.

[edited by: GeorgeK at 8:47 pm (utc) on May 14, 2008]

thecoalman

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 8:43 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

The misconception I believe is about the Texas ISP that used Nebuad to insert ads into pages. There's a link a few posts back, they inserted a piece of javascript into the page source itself. The ad appears directly on the page and there is no way to distinguish it as a ISP generated ad.

Charter's implementation doesn't say they will be doing that but as a consumer I don't like it all.

timster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 8:47 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

OK, I'm ready to be outraged as much as the next guy (and I'm not sure I like this idea personally) but reading this I'm not sure this has anything about stealing a publisher ads. Phorm is saying they are "partnering" with publishers.

After reading the Phorm press release, my impression of how this would affect a publisher is this:

-Right now your site on widgets are going to have lots of widget ads on them.

-With Phorm, if someone who spends most of his time on sprockets websites visits your widget site, then some of your adsense ads will be replaced with ones about sprockets. (Then assuming revenues go up, they take their cut.)

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 9:19 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Anyone inserting ads into your pages is most likely violating both fair use and breaking 'net neutrality.

First off, even Google knows the difference between fair use and only puts ads on snippets and not the full cache page. The act of inserting ads into the full page is breaking fair use and monetizing someone else's content, which I believe is a pure copyright violation.

The second issue on net neutrality is that the ISPs are supposed to leave the datastream untouched for any protocol and not interfere with the datastream whatsoever. Injecting content into the datastream, if that occurs, is clearly a violation of net neutrality.

Lastly, once the ISP starts modifying the content, if that occurs, they become a PUBLISHER themselves and responsible for the content they modify or the nature of the modifications that occur and open themselves up to potentially huge lawsuits that safe harbor won't protect them from.

I can't imagine they'd be stupid enough on any level to open pandora's box which is filled with law school grads, but I've been surprised before.

GeorgeK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 9:26 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I support net neutrality. No law has yet passed on the topic in the USA, though:

[en.wikipedia.org...]

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 9:35 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm aware no law has been passed yet, but Charter may push the issue over the top.

Besides, I don't see how their technology can determine which computer behind my firewall router did which surfing.

Can you imagine what happens when kids get ads for adult material, or even mom for that matter, because dad's been out surfing naughty places?

GeorgeK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 9:43 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Indeed. When hobbyists are able to do stuff like:

<snip>

for fun in 20 lines of perl code, imagine what folks motivated by economic interests can do....indeed, folks might already be doing it with transparent proxies and clever perl code to replace ads with their own (although at a small enough level not to be noticed yet).

Perhaps the big advertising networks like AdSense, etc. will create a Publisher's "Bill" of Rights (no pun intended, incrediBILL!), which would ensure that they do not monetize a site without the consent of the publisher for the benefit of any 3rd party (i.e. an ISP or spyware etc. that would overwrite its own ads in place of the legitimate publisher), and that any attempt to do so would simply transfer the funds to the legitimate site owner.

[edited by: martinibuster at 10:35 pm (utc) on May 14, 2008]
[edit reason] Removed URL. [/edit]

DavidV

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 9:56 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not to distract the ad insertion thing too much, but this article about DPI and privacy is also fairly interesting....

[arstechnica.com...]

GeorgeK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 9:57 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

First off, even Google knows the difference between fair use and only puts ads on snippets and not the full cache page. The act of inserting ads into the full page is breaking fair use and monetizing someone else's content, which I believe is a pure copyright violation.

I forgot to give the counter-example of:

[mattcutts.com...]

If someone uses the Google Toolbar, and your 404 page is a 200 byte Haiku poem that you've copyrighted, and instead they decide to serve up their own search box (which they'll monetize), what will you do? And Google is "not evil".....

Consider We 'R Evil Inc's new Browser 12.0 which observes a "304" status code of a page:

[en.wikipedia.org...]

i.e. "not modified" and decides to replace it with its own page with the logic "You've already seen that page --- here are 5 pages from our advertisers that you might want to see instead!"

Clearly an "enhanced browsing experience".....

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 10:44 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Now that I've had time to contemplate the situation, what Charter is doing by allowing a 3rd party to monitor your communications without permissions may technically be deemed wire tapping without a warrant.

Just a thought ;)

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 11:01 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

<mod hat off>

It was pointed out to me after the above post that Charter makes it part of their TOS that you're opt-in to the wire tapping and must opt-out.

OK, did I wake up in a dictatorship?

Are the civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution of the U.S. now a easily violated with a TOS requiring opt-out and a browser cookie to regain those rights?

Was that an earthquake I just felt or was it the Founding Fathers rolling in their graves?

</mod hat off>

[edited by: incrediBILL at 11:03 pm (utc) on May 14, 2008]

ebound

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 11:28 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Cool. I think this is great. This means I can go down to Barne's and Noble and put a leaflet advertising my website in every magazine, book and newspaper I can find.

IanKelley

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 11:42 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

After reading Charter's announcement to users it's clear (to me anyway) that the technology will replace an website's existing ads (banners, Adsense, etc...) with Charter's own third party ads.

Most of the targeting appears to be determined by surfing habits, which they promise will not be traceable to users. That part is an outright lie as the data has to be linkable to the account in order to accomplish targeting.

So what this seems to mean is that they will be removing website owner's income source and replacing it with their own. Basically undermining the mechanism by which the internet is currently able to remain free.

I think Charter is probably too big to realistically expect a boycott (from the webmaster side) but they definitely deserve one if they actually implement this.

This is taken from the OP's second link:

Can I choose to opt out of this enhanced service?

Yes. As our valued customer, we want you to be in complete control of your online experience. If you wish to opt out of the enhanced service we are offering, you may do so at any time ... To opt out, it is necessary to install a standard opt-out cookie on your computer. If you delete the opt-out cookie, or if you change computers or web browsers, you will need to opt out again.

So every time you clear your cookies you opt back in. Absolutely no technical reason why they can't let people opt out at the account level.

[edit: typo]

[edited by: IanKelley at 11:52 pm (utc) on May 14, 2008]

GeorgeK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 11:51 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

The issue of copyrights was mentioned earlier. If Charter wanted to violate no copyrights, they could use this technology to insert ads onto *.gov pages, as 99.99% of US government website pages are in the public domain.

Perhaps Obama, Clinton and McCain could then have their ads appear at www.whitehouse.gov. :)

(I'm sure the blackhats have already considered this, so I hope I'm not giving them ideas; I've got lots of other ideas, but as a whitehat I'm not going to do their research for them for free)

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 11:54 pm on May 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

Absolutely no technical reason why they can't let people opt out at the account level.

Again, since when is being wire-tapped an opt-out thing?

IanKelley

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 12:17 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Their opt out method is just another good illustration of how invasive and short sighted the thinking behind this "service" is.

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 12:27 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

There's a Firefox Extension that has been out for several moths now: dephormation.

In the UK, Phorm may very well be illegal under RIPA.

johnnie

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 12:32 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Even better ebound, you can rip out the existing ads and replace them with yours

ken_b

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 12:36 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

If Charter goes ahead with this, ....

Could a website just service Charter visitors a page telling them their access to the site is denied because of the actions of Charter, and that they should contact Charter to express their opion of Charters actions.

WooHooYeahAllRight

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 1:01 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Cool. I think this is great. This means I can go down to Barne's and Noble and put a leaflet advertising my website in every magazine, book and newspaper I can find.


Cool idea. If they harass you in the store, you can always show them the letter you emailed to corporate headquarters allowing each "browser" in their shop to opt out.

[edited by: WooHooYeahAllRight at 1:02 am (utc) on May 15, 2008]

GeorgeK

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 1:10 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Could a website just service Charter visitors a page telling them their access to the site is denied because of the actions of Charter, and that they should contact Charter to express their opion of Charters actions.

With the ability to rewrite HTML, an ISP could simply replace such a message with "The website you are trying to reach can't be accessed at this time.....here are 5 other websites you might like instead!" (with links to paid ads)

By the way, this would be a conceivable countermeasure by ISPs to publishers going with SSL --- simply refuse to connect to that site that won't play ball, and instead serve up paid links to other advertisers. Those links would probably have a great clickthrough rate and eCPM....

[edited by: GeorgeK at 1:12 am (utc) on May 15, 2008]

vincevincevince

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3649194 posted 1:26 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

It really sucks and I don't want to see it as a webmaster. However, I do not think it is illegal by any means.
  • Libraries stamp books, insert RFID tags and borrowing slips are pasted into them before lending them
  • The postal service puts their own adverts in the franking on letters
  • Private courier services plaster packages with their branding
  • Freephone ISPs long depended upon showing a popup window alongside webpages
  • etc.

    I can't see this being a copyright problem, just a pita for webmasters.

  • weeks

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3649194 posted 1:36 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Cool. I think this is great. This means I can go down to Barne's and Noble and put a leaflet advertising my website in every magazine, book and newspaper I can find.

    No, you can't do that; and it's not a good example. A better example would be Barnes and Noble putting ads into all of the publications they distribute. Now, the question is, what kind of arrangement do they have with the book and magazine providers? Who has the clout here?

    encyclo

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3649194 posted 1:42 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

    A better example would be Barnes and Noble putting ads into all of the publications they distribute

    Or a store which sold magazines, and which covered up all the adverts in those magazines with different ads glued on the top, keeping the revenue for themselves. The ISP is ripping off webmasters, their clients and their customers.

    vincevincevince

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3649194 posted 1:48 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Look at it from the user perspective. Ad revenue to ISPs opens up the possibility of cheaper internet connections and even free internet.

    thecoalman

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3649194 posted 1:52 am on May 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

    Freephone ISPs long depended upon showing a popup window alongside webpages

    I would not have problem with that, if a ISP wants to serve pop-ups or open new windows let them serve a zillion ads, they can also rot on the vine as their customers go elsewhere to no ad services. They are certainly within their rights. The problem I have is these are right in the page itself.

    This 113 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 113 ( 1 [2] 3 4 > >
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