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Measuring Online Behavioural Advertising

Nikolaos Laoutaris, Telefonica Research
12-1pm  23rd Mar 2017


In this talk I will present our recent results on detecting behavioural targeting in online advertising. I will describe the methods that we have developed to: 1) audit web domains for behavioural targeting by training artificial "personas", collecting ads, and identifying correlations between training and landing pages, 2) audit individual impression by using only browser history and online taxonomies for web-pages, and 3) audit individual impression by using crowdsourced data from multiple users. I will also present our initial findings on the amount of targeting going on, the most targeted categories, the existence of targeting even in sensitive personal categories for which the law requires explicit user consent, as well as our results on identifying the chain of companies involved in the delivery of such ads.

Short Bio

Nikolaos is the Chief Scientist and one of the co-founders of the Data Transparency Lab, a community of technologists, researchers, policymakers and industry representatives working to create a new wave of transparency software that will permit end users to sneak peek on what happens to their personal data behind the curtains of the web. He is currently working on answering questions like: "Why am I seeing this advertisement?”, “Is the price that I see online for this ticket same as the one seen by you?”, ”How can we reconcile the information needs of online advertising/marketing and the privacy concerns of everyday people?”. Before dropping everything to work on privacy and transparency Nikolaos spent many years conducting research and innovation in intelligent transportation, economics of networks, content distribution, new protocols for the Internet, energy efficient communications,  social networks, algorithms, and others. More info at:


Large Conference Room, O'Reilly Institute