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AdControl - Making Ad Targeting Transparent!

AdControl is a Chrome browser plugin that tracks and analyzes advertisements that are inserted into webpages that you browse. It was designed as part of a research project studying the ecosystem of online-ads and how users can have better transparency into the underlying systems that select ads for individuals.

Anytime an ad is displayed to you on a webpage, AdControl helps you understand the likely reason of you receiving the ad. Consider the scenario where you receive an ad to purchase a car.
  • Was the ad shown to you because you are interested in cars (and how do websites know this)?
  • Was it because people interested in cars often visit this webpage?
  • Or, was it because you recently tried to buy a particular item (and who tracked this)?
In its current form, after being installed, AdControl displays a small, unobtrusive overlay over every advertisement on a webpage that you visit.

How to use the AdControl plugin

Step 1: Identify Ads
Example AdControl overlay Look for the AdControl overlay and note the type of the ad. Ads are classified as either contextual behavioral or retargeted .
Step 2: Examine Additional Information
Example AdControl overlay Click on the overlay to get more information about the ad, where it would take you if clicked (landing page), and related websites that you have visited in the past.
Step 3: Give Feedback (optional, but very helpful)
Example AdControl overlay Give feedback about the ad and check one of the two options:
  • This ad was relevant: Select this if this ad was informative and relevant to your interests.
  • This ad was not relevant: Select this if this ad was irrelevant, offensive, and you would rather not have seen it.
  • NOTE

    In its current early incarnation, AdControl focuses only on advertisements delivered by the DoubleClick ad network, which is one of the largest today.