back to article Now you can be tracked online by your email addy. Thanks, Google!

Companies can upload your email address to Google so when the internet goliath detects you surfing across the web, it can throw better-targeted adverts at you. So if you buy a bike and give the store your email address, and the store gives that information to Google, the internet billboard giant can find the Google account …

  1. Sebastian A

    Well that settles it

    I wasn't in the habit of giving businesses my email address unless absolutely necessary anyway, but now they'll be getting a randomly generated one on my domain.

    1. gerdesj Silver badge

      Re: Well that settles it

      No need to actually give your email address - you will be found out anyway.

      For many years (~15) I have used my real identity everywhere on t'tubes - I am Jon Gerdes aka gerdesj aka JSG (only on /.) I do have a better password regime than most and I do keep an eye on when accounts get taken (I have certain sacrificial passwords).

      I am me and I refuse to be someone else.

      Worry about my email address? Fuck that: it's gerdesj@blueloop.net and always has been. I get 0-10 emails through the filters per day and most of those are from "legits" like linkedin.

      I'm well aware that a stance like mine is a bit of an invitation but if you happen to run your own mail system and think you can run that mail system effectively then crack on.

      Be yourself: it's so much easier to simply *be*.

      Cheers

      Jon

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well that settles it

        I don't, because I give false data by default. I'm a bit too stubborn to just give up like that.

        If I give them real data they can claim that I have somehow given permission, but by consistently NOT doing that I can be certain that the only way that data ends up in a marketeer's hands is by violating the law.

        Oh, and I follow up.

      2. gerdesj Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Well that settles it

        "I'm well aware that a stance like mine is a bit of an invitation "

        Only eight requests for account verification this morning? Someone needs to put their back into it.

        Quite a lot of information in those emails including an IP address, time zone info and a few other things. You really do have to be careful when it comes to information leakage and blabbing your name and email address is the least of them ...

      3. Sherrie Ludwig

        Re: Well that settles it

        I've just gotten very good at ignoring the ad content. I couldn't tell you what the ads look like or are flogging anywhere on any pages I visit. Even the pop-up/overlay ads, I just click the X. No idea what just went by. Lately, there are pages that want me to disable cookies before I view them. I back up and don't view them. Simple.

        1. Graham Marsden

          Re: Well that settles it

          I own my own domain, so if I buy something from fredbloggs.com I use fredbloggs.com@mydomain as the e-mail address which lets me keep track of who is doing what with my details.

          Also I never surf when logged in to google, I only ever log in if there's something I actually have to do on their system, all the other times I'm logged off. Their cookies are only allowed on per session and, of course, I use AdBlock to block google analytics.

          Ok, it might not stop them completely, but it certainly makes life harder for them.

          1. P. Lee Silver badge

            Re: Well that settles it

            I use different email addresses for each org I talk to, and dedicated applications for email etc, rather than a browser interface. FF + noscript, ghostery etc for general browsing which stays logged out of google and chromium only for talking to google services. They can track me on their own site if they really want, but normally its running in privacy mode anyway so that I don't have problems with multiple google logins from different family members.

  2. veti Silver badge

    Carry on Googling

    Oddly, I don't really have a problem with this. If I'm logged into Google, I kinda assume they're going to do stuff like this. What's new, as far as I can see, is that they're trying to get advertisers to pay more for it.

    On the list of things I blame Google for (manipulating search results to promote their own products, maintaining far more information about me than I ever thought I was letting them collect) - this doesn't really register. As you were.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess their algorithms are shit

    If they need merchant data to do their matching...

    edit: data, not date...

  4. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    *Shaking head in disgust*

    I've got a Hosts file to drop your advertising into so I never encounter it again. I've got a BlackList of advertisers that aren't allowed inbound past my firewall. If your ads get in anyway, I'll add them (and you) to my Eternal Shit List and Never. Do. Business. With. You. Again.

    I. Do. Not. Want. Your. Advertisements.

    I. Do. Not. Agree. To. Accept. Their. Delivery. To. My. System.

    I pay for my bandwidth, and your ads literally cost me money. So unless & until YOU pay ME to view your ads, I don't want them, I won't pay to get them, and if you force them through anyway then don't be surprised when I submit your domain(s)/server(s)/etc to each & every RealTimeBlackList I can find.

    You may bitch & moan that you need the revenue from ejaculating your ads all over the place, But I Don't Swallow.

    Now FUCK OFF AND DIE, because I'm Sick & Fucking Tired of telling you morons that NO MEANS NO.

    Find a new revenue stream. Your current one (ads) doesn't work, isn't popular, and eventually will prove the catalyst of your downfall when enough geeks get sufficiently pissed off at you to come down on your heads with a Technology Fist Of God & crush you like the cockroaches you are.

    Go away.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *Shaking head in disgust*

      Can you tell us how you really feel?

      1. gerdesj Silver badge

        Re: *Shaking head in disgust*

        "Can you tell us how you really feel?"

        Slightly peeved or marginally inconvenienced if I'm any judge of a post.

      2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        @Theodore, Re: Feelings.

        *Pretends to consider the request, looking up & away, finger tapping chin, thoughtfull expression*

        *Fingers snap "EUREKA!" reaction moment, complete with Lens Flare Effect & comical "SHING!" sound effect*

        <Wierd Al Yankovic>I. Hate. Advertisers!</Twit>

        =-)p

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: @Theodore, Feelings.

          I don't hate advertisers. They're just playing the game by the rules we set them. Capitalism says "sell stuff", they do what works to make that happen, and that's not bad, it's what keeps us all in tea and crumpets.

          I hate advertising.

          A 'net without advertising would be a 'net without 99% of its content. Obviously there'd be no Google, no Chrome, no YouTube; less obviously, also no Wikipedia, no Steam, probably no Reg, in its current form at least. And certainly no Netflix or competitors, because we'd all be downloading stuff at 56 kbps if we were lucky.

          You may be fine with that. I would. But sadly, most of our contemporaries wouldn't. And money talks.

          1. Sotorro

            Re: @Veti

            I do hate advertisers, because they seem to care only about them self.

            If advertisers and publishers would be sensible people, and not create whole webpages full of blinking ads, I would never have bothered to start blocking them in the first place.(*)

            With ads being a major attack vector, it has only stiffened my resolve to block the blinking nasties.

            I always thought that advertisement worked well, because it gives you brand recognition, you show a brand or logo enough times, so that when the time comes, that I really want to search for or buy a product, I might remember your business, Google and friends seem to be mostly focused on click through rates, rather then impressions.

            When I want to buy a product online, I go search for the best deals online, I think the only advert I might click on is when I search for a product to buy and then look also at some of the advertised websites, if they are accidentally the same kind of website I was looking for, I might click on it, but most of the times the advertised website will be in the search results already, specially since I will click on more then the first ten search results.

            What I notice with a lot of the "targeted" advertising is that you never get shown something new and interesting, but that they try to sell you the item you just have bought, just like Youtube shows results that reflects my previous viewed video's and consequently doesn't show anything I want to click on, because I like to see something new.

            Because Youtube is virtually the only Google service I use, and I block their trackers and not use their search or email, it becomes really clear how this "targeted" advertising really works, it makes sure you never ever find some thing new and interesting again.

            I do not know if it is because flash is blocked, but I like the Registers advertisements, no blinking annoying junk, with some ads that I might actually click on, thumbs up.

            (*)When I accidentally pass by a football match on TV, I always wonder how people can watch this guff, with the screen filled with 50% blinking adverts, and then apparently people pay for premium TV channels to be able to watch these blinking adverts all day long. -shakes head-

          2. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: @Theodore, Feelings.

            They're just playing the game by the rules we set them.

            The rules I set them are the firewall and routing rules.

            Advertisers don't always adhere to the real-life rules we have set, which will probably be for a different jurisdiction anyway. And in the end it's MY system, on which I get to rule what's allowed or not. So if that hurts your business model, you're using the wrong model.

          3. LucreLout Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: @Theodore, Feelings.

            I don't hate advertisers...I hate advertising.

            I hate morons that click on adverts, buy anything from spam, and are generally just to flamin' stoopid to be allowed out in digital public.

            I vote we IQ test the internet. We can have a DMZ for farcebook and tw@tter, for the slow pokes, but we shouldn't allow them general access to everything.

            Paris - Just because you're on the internet doesn't mean you should be using the internet.

          4. jb99

            Re: @Theodore, Feelings.

            Yes there would.

            They'd just be way smaller companies which would be a good thing, and you might have to pay a small amount to purchase their services instead of them being the scumbags they are now.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Advertising

            There are plenty of useful sites which don't take or need advertising but run quite effectively on community spirit and donations: Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, various Linux distros and other open-source software, etc. The likes of the BBC (and many other nations' national broadcasters) are funded in other ways. Much 'commercial' content on the net is just vapid clickbait to feed you adverts for stuff you don't need. The rest, which may be of more informative use, needs to find other ways to fund itself.

            Personally-targetted advertising is just creepy (especially since it's probably not just the advertisers who are harvesting that data about your web travels). If a site hosts its own locally-hosted ads, or allows donations then I'm happy to support those, but anything that reports back to a mothership, no, not if I can avoid it. (I have to wonder just how segregated any data gathered from sites using Amazon Web Services CDN content is from Amazon's actual shop front itself, does the Amazon shop front know more about you than you think? I'm sure the thought will have at the very least crossed their mind.).

            It is not good for any one internet company to become too large and too powerful, whether that be Google, or Yahoo (ahem), or anyone. It's healthier for everyone for us all to use a range of different alternatives. There are alternatives to most Google services: numerous other search engines (eg, unbubble, ixquick, DuckDuckGo); email from an ISP (for only a few pounds/euros/dollars); host your own cat video, blog, etc, on your own website/CMS (or use, say, dailymotion, vimeo, etc, if you must); OpenStreetMap (as already mentioned); Piwik instead of Google Analprobe, etc.. BorgOS (I mean Android) is probably the hardest of the infections to remove, unfortunately, given that the alternatives are either (very) costly or are somewhat lacking in apps.

            Once upon a time the internet was a decent place where people shared information out of pure goodwill and friendliness (and I miss those days), nowadays the foetid sewers of advertising are overflowing onto the pavements almost everywhere you tread..

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: *Shaking head in disgust*

      It's always sad to see someone sitting on a fence like that...

      Shadow Systems, I used to think I was the only one here who rabidly hated adverts. Good to see I'm not alone.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *Shaking head in disgust*

      I'm amazed that people think marketing and advertising stops because of ad blocking.

      Let me spell it out for you....

      Just because you don't like ads, or you block them, doesn't mean they go away. They just change. They go into the words you read, the programs you watch and the music you hear.

  5. gerdesj Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    The world turns whilst angels weep

    "Customer Match will roll out to all advertisers over the next few weeks, and Universal App Campaigns can be used as part of AdWords from Monday."

    The point at which consumers could be considered to have an effective armour against modern advertising is long gone. That armour used to be considered "common sense" or the ability to blank out unwanted intrusions.

    No more.

    It didn't happen now but some time ago. This is just one more minor outrage against our sensibilities. In and of itself it is a small thing but I hope you enjoy "you can show ads that inspire them to plan their next trip". You'll love your next trip and so will I.

    The world turns ...

    Cheers

    Jon

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @ gerdesj -- Re: The world turns whilst angels weep

      I'm looking at this a tad differently.. If I were a business selling different kinds of widgets, why would I pay an advertiser to show some an ad for the widget they just bought? This makes no sense. Until the businesses paying for the advertising sit up and smell the freakin' coffee, things won't change. The advertisers con them into their domain by saying things like flashing and dancing ads will draw people. No, not people who think before they click it won't.

      So, by your example, I just come back from a holiday trip and suddenly... I'm getting ads for another one. Will click on it? Or will I wait until I know when and where my next holiday trip will be? I used to see this a lot before I used Adblock, etc.

      I do get catalogs from businesses that I've bought stuff from, but if they send me a catalog every month, they go straight to the trash. Catalogs are good in that they have more than one product, but to hit me every month is a deal breaker. Same for online ads. Hit me at every website I go to, and I'm not your customer anymore.

      The man in the middle (the ad companies) are idiots but the businesses that have been conned into using their services are just tad above them.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: @ gerdesj -- The world turns whilst angels weep

        Of idiots - I bought, two days ago, a new PVR. A once-in-five-years purchase, you might think.

        Yesterday, I received two emails from the company concerned. The first was a 'thanks for purchasing, delivery will be at...', and the second was an advert for the *exact* product I had just bought. Prior to this I had had no email contact with this company.

        What on earth were they thinking?

  6. thames

    Why would you do this?

    "So if you buy a bike and give the store your email address"

    Why would you give the store your normal e-mail address? If you're going to give them an e-mail address at all for some reason, why wouldn't you set up a special account that's only used for sign ups?

    "Then, as you surf the web with your Google account cookie in hand"

    Why would you log into your Google account all day if you're not actually using it at that moment? I use a separate browser for checking web mail than I use for normal browsing. That way I can leave the e-mail account open as long as I want while still closing the general use web browser whenever I want without having to check what I have open in various tabs.

    Oh, and when you're just browsing and reading, turn cookies off. Turn them on to log into a forum to comment, post your comment, and then log out, turn cookies back off and erase all the cookies immediately. This is easy to do with Firefox.

    Trusting random strangers on the web with access to your cookies is like trusting random people on the street with access to the contents of your pockets. On the street you can put a bit of money in one pocket to pay for small purchases while keeping the rest stuffed well down in another. On the web you can do your general web browsing with one browser and view your e-mail accounts in another. Just use some common sense with this sort of stuff.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Why would you do this?

      @thames

      Effort.

      Don't get me wrong - I use 4 browsers for different things and have disaposable e-mail aliases for signups and my main browser has no cookies or JS enabled.

      But I am sysadmin; I am IT-savvy and have the resources and knowledge to do these things.

      For most people, they simply won't bother. They will link their Chrome with their Gmail accounts and then link that to their phones and use the e-mail address to signup and do al manner of things. It will match across Facebook and Linked-in and Twitter and be used to signup to supermarket loyalty cards and frequent-flier programs and so on.

      That's the truth and those people are the market here - not you and me. We are cynical bastards who are more likely to be put off by advertising that is too 'relevant' than we are to jump onto it.

      So, while it can be circumvented and slowed, there are enough people who don't know how to or simply don't care and they ensure that these practices are lucrative enough to continue and to expand. (Worse, there are some who actually think this is all a good thing - "more relevant ads - better than random stuff, I suppose!".)

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: Why would you do this?

        Despite all the time and effort I put into sticking it to the man (corporate or especially government), in this I am the market here as well. It's why this account (brian.bartlett@gmail.com) exists at all. What will be interesting is seeing what my other accounts, Google or not, pull in. Time to drag the trawl. Fun, well my kind of fun. Need input!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why would you do this?

        We are cynical bastards

        I would venture that it's got very little to do with cynicism and nothing with bastardy, more like (somewhat overobsessive perhaps) awareness of "privacy". And that we care about it, and all that might, just might, coincide with the line of work, or interest. BUt we're a tiny minority, and the rest of the population - don't care much. The inconvenience they suffer (tracking, spamming, ads, etc.) is tolerable and, at the same time, they adapt and perhaps become a little more resiliant, while at the same time the advertisers and data-miners adapt and find new ways to trick their targets. What bothers me somewhat though is, that, perhaps, while this model internet propulsion stinks, it also... works, hence no incentives to come up with a better, cleaner one. You have a host and a parasite, and they co-exist, more or less "happily", because both provide what the other one wants, so why change? I mean, the population in general, not the aberrative specimen populating el reg fora which are too tiny to even register on the radar, so can be ignored, statistically.

      3. Sherrie Ludwig

        Re: Why would you do this?

        I'm an old lady whose main computing experience dealt with machines that took Holerith cards. I use the internet for news, reaching friends and family that live far away, and for information and amusement. I don't know much about filters, cookies, etc. I just don't pay attention to ads. Period. Would I block these if I knew how? Sure. But it sounds rather complex, I don't know how, and your explanation is about as clear to me as my instruction on how to cast on and knit would be to you. Oh, and I do order some stuff on the internet, but if the company isn't reachable by phone, I don't do business with them. Old-fashioned? Yup.

        1. phil dude
          Boffin

          Re: Why would you do this?

          The internet browsers can have additional components added e.g Chrome (from Google) and Firefox (from Mozilla), can have advert blocks added as a component.

          One such component is called "Ublock Origin" and is available for both browsers.

          In Firefox under the "Tools" menu is "Add-ons", and there is a menu on the left with "Get Add-ons". If you enter the exact name "ublock origin" it should only show you one option.

          In Chrome it is under the menu option "More Tools" there is "Extensions". Click on "Get more extensions" and enter the name "Ublock origin" in the search box. Note, Chrome offers other alternatives that are not the intended target. The one you one is authored by "gorhill"

          Other commenters may have other suggestions, but this one plugin helps a great deal to clean up browsing.

          YMMV

          P.

  7. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Now, El Reg, do come clear...

    Was the three part series of "build your own mail server" articles a clever warm-up for this?

  8. BroFarOps

    Google has been tracking and targeting those who use their Google search engine for years. They've just gotten better at it.

    For those who didn't know goto https://history.Google.com sign in and your complete browsing history will come up...

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      I've just logged in. My browsing history appears to be non-existent.

      * Only log-in when you need to - and log-out when you've finished.

      * Adopt a sensible cookie-management policy.

      * Adopt a sensible policy for limiting Javascript

      * Use unique addresses for different sites/organisations

      I can understand Joe Public not being able to do these things - but the type of people reading this site should be more than capable.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is why seller's websites ought to have a tick box for agreeing to share details with 3rd parties, and it ought to start unticked.

    How does google's latest "offering" sit alongside existing UK law on this matter?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No-spam tick boxes

      "And this is why seller's websites ought to have a tick box for agreeing to share details with 3rd parties, and it ought to start unticked."

      Many sites do have tickboxes for their own and other spam (although often the box is ticked "accept spam" by default, which is completely unacceptable), but even companies which are based in countries which are supposed to have strong Data Protection law (ie, Europe) still seem to then spam you regardless. If I thought that the ICO was actually any use (they make you take up the issue with the law-breaking scum initially, yeah, right, that'll work..) I'd make more of an effort to complain, but life is too short..

  10. dubious

    Addy?

    I didn't know anyone over the age of 14 used "email addy" for "email address". Next you'll be telling me you also use "mobe" instead of "mobile"!..

    <shudder>

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Addy?

      I doubt anyone under the age of fourteen knows what an email address is, "email addy" is, if anything, something I'd expect to hear from one of the olds.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tracking

    Well I use a combination of Mozilla (with "do not track" enabled and cookies automatically deleted at the end of a session) plus Ad Block and Ghostery both configured into their most anal retentive "fuck off and die" modes. Can be a PITA for a small minority of sites, but the big plus is that it is a very rare occasion when I actually see any ads.

    Speaking of Ghostery and trackers, here's a list of them on El Reg's forum: "DataPoint Media", "DoubleClick" and (surprise, surprise) "Google Analytics". Just some everyone is aware of them.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Tracking

      The thing is, I also do all the ad blocking stuff. And so on.

      But I don't mind that sites have adverts. I even unblock and click on some, at random intervals, to pay my way.

      I do object to being spammed, particularly being spammed about expensive versions of things I've already bought, or having sites full of rather unpleasant ads that fill the page with flashing banners to the point that the content is lost. Or sucker ads telling me I've won a competition that I didn't enter.

      As noted above. It's not adverts that are the problem.

      It's the useless gits that create this shit because they can't do a useful or productive job ( and aren't good enough to get a proper advertising job either) who should burn in hell.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Tracking

      here's a list of them on El Reg's forum: "DataPoint Media", "DoubleClick" and (surprise, surprise) "Google Analytics".

      I suspect that Google think I only ever read El Reg. It one of the very, very few site I allow some of the trackers and stuff through.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not new?

    I'm an advertiser and Adroll have offered this functionality for quite some time now... It's why you see ads from companies you've dealt with in the past in your Facebook news feed, etc.

  13. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Precaution

    So if you buy a bike and give the store your email address

    It's not "my email address". It's an email address unique to that store that ends up un my mailbox.

    <i.Then, as you surf the web with your Google account cookie in hand</i>

    My what? There's no "my Google account" and hence no "my Google account cookie".

  14. chivo243 Silver badge
    Happy

    multiple throw-away gmail addys

    I have 4 gmail accounts. My primary never gets out unless I trust the requestor, which is never. I have one for tech pages, one for NSFW, and one where I know will catch the spam. Maybe I should look at the garbage in them? I'll do that tomorrow, as we all know tomorrow never comes...

  15. Mark Simon

    Brand Recognition

    Is that when you say something like:

    “I recognize you: you’re the moron who keeps pissing me off with unwanted advertising, and whom I am going to avoid whenever and wherever possible"

    Is that it?

  16. Whitter
    Flame

    No tracking? No means no people: in any walk of life.

    This one isn't as important as the other obvious "No means no" but it is interesting just how easily some people find it to ignore "no". I believe they are called "bastards" (and its the web, so I'm being polite)..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No tracking? No means no people: in any walk of life.

      "This one isn't as important as the other obvious "No means no" but it is interesting just how easily some people find it to ignore "no". I believe they are called "bastards" (and its the web, so I'm being polite).."

      I emphatically want to point out that it certainly isn't as grievous as the other far more terrible crime, but if the advertisers can try to get away with odious newspeak to justify their actions, such as, "We use cookies to enhance your experience" (ie, to track you mercilessly - that's not enhancing my 'experience' (it's a website, not a theme park ride)), then I don't really see much harm in using loaded language back at them: "data rapists", that is essentially what they are.

      (Again, I do know that it's not a directly-comparable matter, and I apologise if anybody is offended by the comparison.)

  17. LucreLout Silver badge
    Windows

    Ad Blocking....

    I, erm, well.... There's no easy way to say this... I might somehow have gotten through 20 years of web use without ever using an Ad Blocker. I always took the view that the ads came with the content and that kept the content free. I know, I know... and no thanks, I have all the bridges I need.

    So now I'm hacked off enough with the whole shooting match to want to start blocking. I mean - movies... who the f*** thinks its ok to start downloading several ad-movies to my browser when all I'm here for is a bit of text content?! Sorry advertisers, but you've gone way too far and its time to push back a little.

    So, with that in mind... Any suggestions from Commentards for ad blockers for IE & Chrome greatfully received. I'll be doing my own research but a guided shortlist might help ensure I don't miss anything I should be considering. I'm guessing AdBlock should be on my list for consideration, but what alternatives are you guys using?

    1. dogged

      Re: Ad Blocking....

      AdBlock in both cases but honestly you're better off with Firefox for adblocking.

      On FF, use AdBlock Edge (it doesn't have a "premium access" so advertisers can pay for their ads not to be blocked). Also use NoScript, Ghostery (remember to configure it to block everything before running off into the web, by default it just reports without blocking) and Flashblock.

      You can adblock with Chrome and IE but the former belongs to Google and is untrustworthy and the latter only supports an inherently insecure extension model. Hopefully MS Edge extensions will improve on this.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Ad Blocking....

        Thanks, also to Phuzz. Upvotes all round.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Ad Blocking....

      I've been a happy user of Adblock Plus for years now, but I've also tried uBlock Origin which does the job at least as well.

      Neither are available for IE though, (although why would you use IE at all except for those few sites which don't work in anything else?)

      1. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

        Re: Ad Blocking....

        +1 on uBlock Origin.

        I recently switched from AdBlock Plus for the reduced memory footprint, and was happily surprised to find out that it also made it very easy to filter entire sections of a webpage, either not recognized as advertising or just taking too much screen space for my liking.

    3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Ad Blocking....

      Privacy Badger. Seems not to break basket checkout pages whilst keeping the bad stuff at bay. Best of all, it needs no block lists, as it simply blocks servers that ignore the "do not track" flag.

  18. Bota

    A positive ad experience

    Asian chicks in bikinis having space hopper races?

    Buy colgate!

    I wouldn't mind that at all tbh, it's all the "do you ever wish you could work from home" ads that irk me.

  19. Patrician

    Targeted advertising doesn't work; I booked an hotel online last year and over the next couple of months the only advertisements I saw were ones for that same hotel that I'd already booked! It was completely pointless....

    Mind I never, ever, click on an ad banner or window on any website; when I want to make a purchase I do a search, compare prices and decide on a supplier. No amount of advertising is going to make me, suddenly, decide I might want to buy something if I'm not actively looking to do so..

  20. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Shirley Illegal?

    At least in EU and many other countries.

    There must be INFORMED consent ...

    "So if you buy a bike and give the store your email address, and the store gives that information to Google, the internet billboard giant can find the Google account associated with that address and tag you as a cyclist."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shirley Illegal?

      At least in EU and many other countries.

      There must be INFORMED consent ...

      Indeed, I would have thought that this would conflict with the Data Protection Directive, the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications (the directive that means that they can't spam you without consent - I'd say that ads that are uniquely targetted to you count as spam), and probably unfair contract law as well (they would have to allow you to refuse this (mis)use of your data)..

      ..but as the US has pitifully weak data protection law, sadly, I can't see that stopping them from trying it on, regardless of the rest of the world..

      Are there any data protection lawyers out there who fancy making a fuss about this? It seems that each time, the data-miners push a little harder, just to see what more they can get away with..

  21. Christopher Reeve's Horse
    Unhappy

    Multiple Accounts

    I admire all the helpful tips and cynicism on offer, but I don't see what the point is for some of the comments advocating the use of multiple Google accounts...

    If you log into them from the same place, surely Google are clever enough to associate information from different accounts to the same IP addresses? Even if the account user isn't guaranteed to be the same person, they're part of the same 'household', and therefore a correlation exists that's probably strong enough to allow targeted marketing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Multiple Accounts

      Which is why other tools such as Proxies, VPN and even TOR are such useful tools for the paranoid.

      TOR browser is a very simple and easy client to use & since gmail is all https pretty safe for little effort.

      Although google will ask you to validate your account a lot more., once you sign in from a proxy IP all the time and also have no local cookies / other tracking items.

      Oh and the NSA / GCHQ will probably start monitoring your mail.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Multiple Accounts

      "multiple throw-away gmail addys

      I have 4 gmail accounts. My primary never gets out unless I trust the requestor, which is never. I have one for tech pages, one for NSFW, and one where I know will catch the spam. Maybe I should look at the garbage in them? I'll do that tomorrow, as we all know tomorrow never comes..."

      I rarely check my "other multiple accounts" on the same day*, or even the same week, and come to think of it, not even the same computer...

      * If I do check the tech addy, it's at work behind the wall and NAT.... and only because I had to leave an e-mail address for some such resource.

  22. JakeMS
    Joke

    Finally

    Thank you Google! I have always wanted my gmail account to allow me to be tracked more easily by advertisers! This is a feature I've been waiting for, for[1] years.

    I can't imagine life without this awesome feature!

    [1] Need a grammer nazi to fix this please :-P

  23. DropBear Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "And when those members are watching their favorite videos on YouTube or catching up on Gmail, you can show ads that inspire them to plan their next trip."

    Is that sentence indescribably repugnant indeed or is it just me...?

  24. Vic

    Fair warning...

    In case anyone reading this is actually planning on using this "facility"...

    Each contact I make gets a unique email address. As soon as that gets uploaded to Google, that address will cease to function. And you should consider me an ex-customer.

    Vic.

  25. hollymcr

    Nobody likes being tracked, but...

    ... surely the only thing worse than targeted ads is untargeted ads?

    I know how much I pay to read El Reg, and it isn't enough (even scaled up to a billion users) to cover the costs of one hack's morning coffee. Unless and until that changes, they need advertising to survive.

    Targeted ads are more likely to be relevant to the site readers, and therefore are more valuable, and there need to be fewer of them to achieve the same income. So targeted ads are better than untargeted ads to the majority of people who prioritise "fewer ads" over "privacy".

    If we don't like ads, and we don't like tracking, then "we" need to come up with better alternatives. And by "we" I pretty much do mean the people reading this site, because if we can't do it I don't know who can. Otherwise we'll have to say bye to El Reg and do some actual work instead, and none of us want that.

    1. Christopher Reeve's Horse
      Flame

      Re: Nobody likes being tracked, but...

      You say that, but where's the sensible alternative? If I could pay El Reg a voluntary fee (perhaps with a suggested minimum) in order to have no adverts and no tracking, I probably would.

      I already do the same for another extremely good but lesser known website (Scottish Review), which makes a point of accepting no advertising money whatsoever.

      If anyone would like to suggest a high quality paid equivalent of Google services that maintains privacy, then please do...

      PS. Just to get a ball park value rolling; I click on VERY few adverts*, in fact generally only by accident. If I didn't block adverts El Reg still wouldn't earn very much from me. If I agreed to pay even £5 a year for access to this site it would be a hell of a lot more than any potential advertising revenue.

      PPS. Another benefit of 'your trusted news sites' being free of the scourge of advertising is commercial impartiality!

      *Just to make a point. - even if I saw an advert for exactly the very rare specific thing I really wanted to buy, I still wouldn't click on it. I'll find and use my own preferred and trusted retailers, thank you. When will this advertising economic bubble just please f*** off!

      1. hollymcr

        Re: Nobody likes being tracked, but...

        You say that, but where's the sensible alternative?

        What I said was that it needs people like us to come up with the alternative (ie the sort of tech people who have a chance of implementing something).

        The subscription model doesn't work in general: it's fine subscribing to a handful of sites but doing it with every site you might ever want to access, including every forum that might just happen to have the answer to a question you need answering but will never visit again, just isn't feasible.

        One solution I have come up with would be a Google "subscription", such that all Google ad's vanish, but the sites that use them will get a proportional share of the revenue from your subscription. That would solve many of the problems but won't work for anyone who doesn't trust Google, and would still require that they track you to the degree necessary to know not to show you the ads. Maybe there's a space for another third party to come up with a similar scheme - if they get a guaranteed payback for each (subscribing) visitor to the site in return for not showing any adverts then many will be prepared to change their sites accordingly. That third party would still need to track you in some form though, so whether "it's not Google" is enough of a reason to trust them I don't know.

        Regardless, not liking ads without proposing an alternative method of funding is like saying you don't like tax but still using the education and health services provided by them. If you don't mind non-targeted ads instead, that's great as long as you accept you will have to be presented with a lot more of them to generate the equivalent income for the sites you visit.

        I'm not surprised my post got downvoted (actually it got fewer than I expected) but seriously: what would the Internet be like if the only viable websites were ones who could support themselves without advertising? Or if they could only do it by having ten times the volume of ads they have now?

    2. LucreLout Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Nobody likes being tracked, but...

      @Hollymcr

      surely the only thing worse than targeted ads is untargeted ads?

      Without untargetted ads I may have missed out on some formative experiences as a youth.... like the time I explained to my soon to be ex-gf that while I understood this was a difficult time of the month for her, the hot chicks on telly just folded in their wings and went roller blading, so she ought to be up for a leisurely trip to the local car show and a few beers with my mates.

      Bass nights.... How I loved discovering that rather than a civilised evening in the local pub with some friends, they were actually an opportunity to get smacked in the face with a bottle by some ned, for having the temerity to object to his lady friends continued puking on my shoes. Oh the japes.

      And the time I saw a car parked suspiciously by the side of the road. Don't worry, says I to the wife, the car in front is a Toyota. Well, yeah, it was a Toyota, with a traffic cop inside and a radar gun. Who could forget that... not my wife, as it happens.

      Yes, untargetted advertising: it's bloody marvellous.

    3. janimal

      Re: Nobody likes being tracked, but...

      On the other hand, as several comments above mention, avoiding ads and tracking is a dark art reserved for a paranoid & knowledgeable few, and maybe their loved ones.

      I know plenty of people who don't like the thought of being tracked or targeted, but just can't quite make the small effort to defend against it.

      El-Reg ads are targeted at a particular demographic. A demographic which is almost certainly the best informed and most able to avoid ads and ad-tracking. I would hazard a guess that many readers either don't block ads or have the site white-listed otherwise it would have disappeared long ago. I think that might change if they suddenly started seeing very personally targeted adverts.

  26. MOH

    I remember a few years ago when Google stopped passing the HTTP_REFERER from search results to the destination page, initially just for logged in users, and claimed they were doing so to protect user's privacy.

    (Which in itself was laughable - if Google thinks my online store is a good match for what you searched for, they'll direct you there, but it affects your privacy showing me what you were searching for. Yet it's fine that they store details of that and all your other searches?)

    Wondered exactly how they'd trample all over users' privacy once they'd roped enough people into logging in

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