Search and Advertising

Economists are interested in how the design of ad auctions affects search engine revenues, and how access to the Internet – and thus to search engines – affects retail prices and possibly leads to higher prices for certain consumers.

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How an Algorithm Is Taught to Be Prejudiced

University of Maryland law professor Frank Pasquale is interviewed about his new book, The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information. Professor Pasquale discusses a growing concern that algorithms used in computer programs (search engines are a prime example) are learning stereotypes, and therefore abetting data discrimination.

Frank Pasquale
Source: National Public Radio’s Marketplace
February 3, 2015

The Information Google Doesn't Want You to Organize

"Hiding ads while analyzing data takes advantage of a key deficit users have around internet services: users only perceive profiling if they receive ads." — Chris Hoofnagle, Director of Privacy Programs, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology

Chris Hoofnagle
Source: USA Today
September 4, 2014

Don’t Force Google to ‘Forget’

"How an individual’s reputation is protected online is too important and subtle a policy matter to be legislated by a high court, which is institutionally mismatched to the evolving intricacies of the online world." — Jonathan Zittrain, Professor, Harvard University

Jonathan Zittrain
Source: The New York Times
May 14, 2014

Native Ads Aren’t as Clear as Outlets Think

Advertisers approach publishers and say, “I want you to run a story that is compatible with my product. It doesn’t have to promote my product, but it has to puff it up in some ways. That’s a complete opposite mental model.”  — Chris Hoofnagle, Director, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology

Chris Hoofnagle
Source: Columbia Journalism Review
December 5, 2013

Is Ad Avoidance a Problem?

"The argument is pretty simple: if you destroy the advertising revenue that content depends on, we’ll end up in a cultural wasteland, or, worse, a culture plagued by advertising that masquerades as content. But things are more complex than they may at first appear." — Tim Wu, Professor, Columbia University

Tim Wu
Source: The New Yorker
October 23, 2013

Is This the Grossest Advertising Strategy of All Time?

"Advertisers can only reach people at their most vulnerable if they can reach them practically anytime. The woman who (apparently, research suggests) feels bad about herself in the morning can receive a text right then and there from a company offering a 'beauty' product." — Ryan Calo, Professor, University of Washington

M. Ryan Calo
Source: The Atlantic
October 3, 2013

What Does It Really Matter If Companies Are Tracking Us Online?

"The consumer is shedding information that, without her knowledge or against her wishes, will be used to charge her as much as possible, to sell her a product or service she does not need or needs less of, or to convince her in a way that she would find objectionable were she aware of the practice." — Ryan Calo, Professor, University of Washington

M. Ryan Calo
Source: The Atlantic
August 16, 2013

Apps That Know What You Want, Before You Do

"What works for a group of 30-something engineers in Silicon Valley may not be representative of the way that 60-year-old executives in New York tend to use their phones." — Andrea Matwyshyn, Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Andrea Matwyshyn
Source: The New York Times
July 29, 2013

Do Not Track proposal is DOA

"There would be widespread confusion if consumers select a Do Not Track option, only to have targeting and collection continue unchanged." — Peter Swire, Professor, Georgia Tech

Peter Swire
Source: CNN Money
July 16, 2013

‘Do Not Track’ Rules Come a Step Closer to an Agreement

The article reports on the decision by the W3C’s Tracking Protection Working Group for a uniform Do Not Track standard for the Internet. Law professor Peter Swire, Ohio State University, is quoted.

Peter Swire
Source: The New York Times
July 15, 2013
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TAP Blog

Private browsing: What it does – and doesn’t do – to shield you from prying eyes on the web

Carnegie Mellon University computer science and privacy expert Lorrie Cranor and her colleague Hana Habib, Graduate Research Assistant with CMU, explain what the private-browsing tools available with most browsers actually provide users. They clarify: “don’t confuse privacy for anonymity.”

Lorrie Faith Cranor

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Fact Sheets

Search Engines, Advertising, and Auctions

Search engines – such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and a variety of other smaller search engines – help users find what they are looking for online by finding web pages that match user-entered keywords. Search engines are free to users, but typically earn revenue through paid advertising.

Featured Article

“It’s a scavenger hunt”: Usability of Websites’ Opt-Out and Data Deletion Choices

Privacy laws require websites to offer consumers options such as the choice to opt out of advertising or to delete account data. On many sites, these options are poorly labelled and hard to find.

By: Alessandro Acquisti, Florian Schaub, Lorrie Faith Cranor, Hana Habib, Jiamin Wang, Norman Sadeh, Sarah Pearman, Yixin Zou