my ad net
my ad net tracks the advertising systems that are tracking me.

It monitors web traffic at my apartment's router to identify, geolocate, and index every server that transacts advertising or marketing data with me or anyone using my internet connection.


As the internet currently stands, ads are typically delivered to users via online advertising networks, which are companies that connect advertisers to content publishers that want to host advertisements on their sites. Ad networks use powerful and complex computer systems to advertise to consumers, enabling targeting, tracking and reporting of impressions in ways not possible with analog media alternatives.

Although well abstracted into the cloud, the underlying infrastructure of an online ad network resembles a dedicated network of servers that use user profile data to serve a targeted or 'optimized' ad into a user's browser in the short time it takes a webpage to load on their device. Consequently, when a webpage loads, its content and its ads download from different web addresses, often held at entirely different physical locations.

This separation of content serving and ad serving has also enabled some users to efficiently filter these ads out using relatively simple ad-blocker programs. When ads are served from separate, dedicated platforms, it's possible to observe patterns in web traffic and identify ad platforms by logging web addresses seen to consistently serve ad-related data. Plain and simple blacklists are the core functionality behind the highly effective ad-blockers that are beginning to destablize the internet's ad-based revenue models.

In the internet's future, ads will likely be integrated into webpage content before being served to a client, making it much harder for these ad-blockers to discern ads from content as a page loads.

I made my ad net to illustrate the circumstances of a potentially unique period in the internet's evolution, one where internet users can exploit these advanced, yet identifiable ad networks to evade the highly sophisticated ad targeting that is increasingly defining the online experience.

-- Tim

Made in Santa Barbara, CA. 2016.