The Future of Ad Blocking: An Analytical Framework and New Techniques

Boo Berry

Moderator + Beta Tester
Moderator
I renamed this topic and I'm going to move it to Off-Topic, since it's not exactly just a Adguard for Windows request as it *could* have implications on all products.

Very interesting read, that's for sure. I'd definitely want to hear the opinions of @avatar on this.
 

avatar

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
This is what I hate about journalism. A wall of text from a person who does not have a slightest idea on the subject.
 

avatar

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Ok, let me explain a bit as I am not a journalist and do have an idea.

and managed to defeat Facebook ads that were previously immune to ad blocking techniques.
Wait, what?

Anyway, let's continue. The proof of concept relies on some good old CSS/JS techniques (which I guess is quite okay for a proof of concept app). After that, it tries to use two different techniques for detecting FB ads.

1. Looks for a "Suggested" marker for FB posts and marks posts with such a marker: https://github.com/citp/ad-blocking/blob/da9625be0aab48aacd598845d27988fb76871309/perceptual-adblocker/perceptualLibrary/check_text_and_link.js#L64

This approach has nothing to do with the "perceptual" ad blocking, so let's put it aside right away.

2. It grabs all the images from a page and uses an image recognition library to compare it with known ad markers (the Adchoices rectangle marker). If a marker found, it then marks its container as an ad.

The idea is very nice and very trendy, though. Hey, publishers deploy anti-adblockers, what can we do, AI to the rescue! However, as it often happens with trendy ideas, it is useless at the moment. On the other hand, it might come in handy in future. After all, that's what scientists do, they think about future.

1. "Markers" image recognition is very fragile and publishers will easily circumvent it (if they want to). The obvious step forward is to recognize the whole ad, like what people do. We don't need markers to understand that ad is an ad.
2. To make it recognize ads, we'll need to educate a neural network, this is what will replace regular filter lists. Btw, have you ever been to a Chinese or Japanese website? It is very hard to understand what is an ad on a website in an unknown language. So, we might need different language-specific neural networks, just like the different language specific filters we have at the moment.
3. So, we will still need filters maintainers to educate those neural networks and to fix tons of false positives.
4. Applying these rules is another issue, it will require us to implement the "stealthy adblocking" technique (the term is from the research), which means having a real page in the background, and showing the processed version of the page.

Summary

1. Will ad blockers ever adopt image recognition?
I guess so, but I doubt it will happen soon. We're talking about years from now.

2. Will it defeat ads like completely?
No, it won't. It will still require us to maintain ad blocking filter lists, there still be ways to sneak ads in.
Moreover, it won't be the only technique used for ad blocking, just yet another cosmetic filtering.
 

Bushido

Member
But as a trendy option, is it possible to implement it to the Beta version of Adguard for Windows as an optional feature (advertise like ,,we have a newly discovered technology - scientifically proofed" could get you some new users)? I suggest to let it stay in Beta for the time when this technology has something ground breaking results to offer. In the mean time, let's take a bite from the development of it and, let the most of the ideas how to improve it, come from the users. Only users opinion based development is always successful, isn't it?
This is a quite handy feature for people who are annoyed basically because of Facebook and Adchoices ads: ,,In the description you'll notice it says it detects only Facebook ads and Adchoices ads". Naming this feature as ,,Facebook & Adchoices block" may tell to users who are annoyed basically because of Facebook and Adchoices ads that they have been listened. Althought it's just a advertize trick, but it works.
 

avatar

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
As some sort of a promotion -- maybe, but it won't really benefit users.
 

Gass

Member
Not Topic related except the part of the title "The Future of Ad Blocking"

I stumbled on this- ultrasonic cross-device tracking. This may be something to add to Stealth Mode abilities?

"Ultrasonic tracking is a relatively new form of user tracking that uses inaudible sounds for that purpose. A basic example is a TV ad that contains ultrasonic sounds that get picked up by an application running on the user's smartphone. It could then push the same ad on the smartphone, or monitor user behavior to find out whether a product website is visited.

Another example is the so-called proximity marketing. This too works with an application that the user carries, and relies on ultrasound emitters placed in the store. Companies may use the information to study user behavior in the store, and provide real-time notifications for products in proximity of the user.

The main issues with ultrasound beacons -- high-frequency audio tags -- is that they are inaudible by humans, and that most speakers and microphones have no problems capturing or emitting them."
source: https://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/06/silverdog-a-sound-firewall-for-chrome/
Gass
 

Boo Berry

Moderator + Beta Tester
Moderator
The ultrasonic thing has been brought up multiple times lately, actually. It really makes sense for mobile devices, not-so-much for desktops (especially mine, it doesn't even have a mic to pick up ultrasonic sound!).
 

Gass

Member
The ultrasonic thing has been brought up multiple times lately, actually. It really makes sense for mobile devices, not-so-much for desktops (especially mine, it doesn't even have a mic to pick up ultrasonic sound!).
My DT doesn't have a mic either unless I plug one in but, what about the speakers of DT talking to your SP or STV? That would be an means to key the actions wouldn't it - especially after this kind of ad medium system and tactics advance.

Then for example, in the US it's noted that over half of households have trashed the landline phone system to move over to Smartphone usage. That could be right thinking on your part for the benefit in that medium of proximity marketing.
Gass :D
 

Boo Berry

Moderator + Beta Tester
Moderator
Hmmm, you might have a point.

Though right now my DT speakers are blasting sweet wonderful rock music (at nearly 6AM no less!), who knows maybe my SP and STVs are listening? :p
 

Gass

Member
Hmmm, you might have a point.

Though right now my DT speakers are blasting sweet wonderful rock music (at nearly 6AM no less!), who knows maybe my SP and STVs are listening? :p
Cool I like that too, prior to 80's - 90's sound - though that newWave stuff some was good, though heavy metal rock has always endured through the ages and been just as HEAVY.
Sup, get it on, be groovy - psychedelic man.
http://www.rockmusictimeline.com/
PS: games and certain apps of communication and music could be the wide spread of this ultrasonic ad surveillance, think?
Gass :D
 
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Boo Berry

Moderator + Beta Tester
Moderator
\m/

Actually, I quite like lots of genres/eras of music (including 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 2000's, 2010's, etc.), including the psychedelic stuff. ;) Though, I admit, a lot of the music in the 2000's and 2010's is 'lacking', which really is a nice way of putting it. We so need an off-topic music thread here - I might create one if people are interested.

<ontopic>
Wonder if the NSA is spying on me with ultrasonic surveillance while blasting Judas Priest at 6:08 AM? Surely they have better things to do? :p
 

Gass

Member
\m/
Actually, I quite like lots of genres/eras of music (including 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 2000's, 2010's, etc.), including the psychedelic stuff.
Wonder if the NSA is spying on me with ultrasonic surveillance while blasting Judas Priest at 6:08 AM? Surely they have better things to do? :p
If it's "Breaking the Law" probably so, and that would be cool to have "What are you Listening to / Music" > Topic, Might leed to a bunch of youtube links being added here and I'm not sure if AG would want that?
Then you surely can't mean any Disco cr_p?
Good rock never dies it just finds a new generation to play it.
Which might be a way for the ultrasonic ad surveillance to rapidly spread to have a bigger footprint in users?
Gass :D
 
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Boo Berry

Moderator + Beta Tester
Moderator
If they're spying on me right now, well "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" NSA! :p

I'm going to create the Music topic. It won't be just for videos, but music news and discussion and stuff like that in one general topic.
 

Gass

Member
If they're spying on me right now, well "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" NSA! :p

I'm going to create the Music topic. It won't be just for videos, but music news and discussion and stuff like that in one general topic.
Agree ;)
 

Gass

Member
If they're spying on me right now
Let me count the ways- This lit piggy went to the store, this lit piggy stayed home, this lit piggy had roast beef, etc...

No really what are the ways and how many (a list with definitions and tech it's witnessed on), where is Adguard at - in this to research, development and defense? I'd give up to 20-usd if it ever ran a fund raiser to move into new frontiers in ad defense.

https://www.youtube.com/results?q=ultrasound+cross-device+tracking
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SilverPush
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telemetry
Thanks, Gass :D
 
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