eyeWnder is an experimental service that allows internet users to get different type of information about the advertisements that they receive when surfing the web. The service is design to help users to understand why specific ads are served to them. Furthermore, the browser extension provides useful information about the user browsing habits and the interest topics behind visited domains.

How to use it

Check the manual to learn how to use the extension.

What information is collected by eyeWnder?

  • - Advertisement Landing Page: The advertisement landing page url seen in web-pages visited by the user. The url is extracted from code analysis on the visited page WITHOUT clicking on any ads.
  • - User Demographic information: The demographic information provided by the user during the add-on installation phase. This includes: Age, Gender, and Employment status (mandatory) and approximate annual Income (optional). This information is used to detect whether advertisements are targeted on any of the above popular demographic categories.
  • - User Interests: The User Interests inferred by the addon locally based on the pages visited by the user. The Interests are computed without sharing any information with advertisers. The addon is using a lexicon of categories attributed to different web domains and maintains the top-20 such categories based on the pages visited by the user. As with the Demographic info contributed directly by the user, the Interests are essentially for being able to detect targeting.

What information is NOT collected by eyeWnder?

  • - The User Browsing History: eyeWnder does not collect or store the browsing history of the user.
  • - Personally Identifiable Information (PII): eyeWnder does not collect or store any Personally Identifiable Information about the user, such as real name, email, address or phone number.
  • - Long Term Unique Identifiers: eyeWondr does not collect any long term unique identifiers like cookies, IP addresses, device or software identifiers, etc. eyeWnder assign its own unique id to a user to be able to identify and analyse the ads belonging to the same user. This identifier is not used for anything else. The user can select to automatically reset this identifier as frequently as desired with minimum window of one week. This limits the maximum amount of ad analysis that can be conducted for a user.

Collected Data details and description

The service is design to protect user anonymity and at the same time to provide meaningful aggregated results about displayed ads. Below we list some implementation details on what data are recorded by the system:
  • When advertisements are detected, the browser extension collects the URL of the visited website, the user ID* and the following information about each detected advertisement:
    • - Advertisement type: We have four different type of advertisement that depends on how the advertising network render the advertisement in the users' browser (Image, Small Images, Canvas or HTML Divs).
    • - Landing page: The landing page of the advertisement (if the extension manage to detect it without clicking on the advertisement). The landing page is the URL that the user will end up visiting if he click on the advertisement.
    • - Timestamp: The timestamp when the visited website finishes rendering in the user's browser.
    • - Advertisement Source URL: This is the source URL that serving the advertisement resources (Images, JavaScript code, etc.) if any of those exists.
    • - Advertisement Dimensions: The width and height of the advertisement.
    • - Advertisement Placement: This is where the advertisement is detected within the website. We have two possible placement options either in the main body of the website, alongside the actual URL resources, or inside an isolated environment called iFrame.
    • - Nested Path: This is available only if the advertisement is nested inside multiple iFrames.
    • - Advertisement Anchor: This is available only if the advertisement is located inside an <a> HTML Tag. In other words, if the advertisement is inside an element that redirects the user to the landing page, when the user click on it.
    *The user ID can be renewed every one week if the user wishes to do so. This functionality is available in the options menu of the extension.

  • The extension also allows the users to see the different interest topics for all visited domains. To collect the interest topics of a domain, the extension needs to contact the back-end service of the tool. To avoid user browsing history fingerprinting we implement the following protection measures:
    • - Browser build-in indexDB: The browser build-in indexDB holds the topics of a visited domain locally within the user's browser. By storing the interest topics locally the user's browser only needs to contact the back-end service once, when a new domain is visited for the very first time, to get the interest topics. The build-in indexDB utilises the LRU eviction policy to minimize the space needed at the users' browser. The indexDB can hold interest topics for up to 2000 domains.
    • - Domains Mixing: The actual visited domains and advertisement landing page domains are mixed together before requesting their interest topics from the back-end service. This approach make it even more difficult to infer the actual browsing history of the user.

Terms of Use

The browser extension and the back-end infrastructure are designed for the research purposes. We do our best to ensure that it works as intended, although we can give no warranty.