About this project
You’ve probably heard the following statement: “IF YOU DON’T PAY, YOU ARE THE PRODUCT!“. In fact, when you are using free Internet services, chance is high that your personal data is being sold to advertisers. This information is often used to deliver targeted ads. The price paid by advertiser to deliver an ad actually depends on the user’s profile and interests. The goal of this project is to evaluate how online advertisers value users according to their profiles, including their Web Histories, interests and locations. We found out that the price paid to serve an ad is very low and is equal, on average, to approximately $0.0005!!! … but YOUR price can be much lower or higher according to the value of your profile (more info. in our NDSS’14 paper)!
For Firefox or Chrome Users: Do you want to know how much you are worth? Do you want to know whether you are more worthy than your friends or other Internet users? Do you want to know your ranking? Install our Firefox plugin (HERE or on Mozilla official site HERE) or Chrome extension (HERE using using this guide). Note that additionally, the Chrome plugin also collects general information about the numbers of ads seen in all the visited Web sites and display an estimated cost of all your ads. The plugin periodically submits data to our servers.
Note that our plugin does NOT work with Adblocks or any addons of these types. If you use Adblockers, and still want to get your prices, you have 2 options:
For Others…: If you are not using Firefox or Chrome, or don’t want to install our plugin, you can still view the average price of participating users HERE
How it works
After a RTB (Real-Time Bidding) auction took place, the Ad Exchange usually informs the winning bidder about the price it has to pay by sending it a price notification. We detected that many such notifications happen through users’ browsers, and leverage this feature to capture winning prices. These prices reflect how advertisers evaluate the value of each individual user according to their profile. Users’ profiles are typically built by advertisers by tracking users’ browsing activities across the websites on the Internet.
Our plugin collects the prices paid by advertisers to deliver ads to YOU. It then computed the average value and your rank within the participating users. You will then be able to see how valuable your data profile is compared to others. A more detailed technical report is available here.
The plug-in only collects winning prices in Real-Time Bidding (RTB) auctions. Each user is identified by an identification number which is randomly generated by the plug-in at installation. Data sent to our servers are composed of this identifiation information, the collected prices and advertisers’ domains (e.g. criteo.com) and HTTP parameters whose values contained clear-text prices (e.g. “wp=”). These information is used to compute various statistical values that are displayed to users. We only collect advertising prices, and do not collect (and actually don’t even see) any personal information or any information related to your online activities, such as the sites that you are visiting.
The plug-in works in the background and searches for any advertisements resulting from Real-Time Bidding. There is a roughly 30% chance that this price will be in clear-text. When clear-text prices are found on a website, there displays a notification to show the sum of the prices paid for RTB ads on this site:
The plug-in records all such clear-text prices and submits data automatically after each 11 new prices. Moreover, for each 20 new prices, you will be notified about the possibility of submitting this data to our server. By clicking on the button, you will see the actual value advertisers attribute to you along with other users:
At any time you can have access to various statistics (average, rank) of the information related to your profile by clicking on the strikes P icon in the add-on bar:
We include here a list of sites which we observed most frequently triggered clear-text winning prices. By visitting these sites you can very likely accelerate the price collection and analysis.
The full list can be found here.
Please contact the team at privacyvalue _at_ gmail.com