Ad-Blocking and Counter Blocking: A Slice of the Arms Race

Rishab Nithyanand, Sheharbano Khattak, Mobin Javed, Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, Marjan Falahrastegar, Julia Powles, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Hamed Haddadi, Steven J Murdoch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paper

Abstract

Adblocking tools continue to rise in popularity, altering the dynamics of advertising revenue streams. In response, a number of publishers have ramped up efforts to develop and deploy tools for detecting and/or counter-blocking adblockers (tools we refer to as anti-adblockers), effectively escalating the online advertising arms race. In this paper, we leverage a novel approach for identifying third-party services shared across multiple websites to present a first characterization of anti-adblocking across the Alexa Top-5K websites. We map websites that perform anti-adblocking as well as the entities that provide anti-adblocking scripts. We study the modus operandi of these scripts and their impact on popular adblockers. We find that at least 6.7% of websites in the Alexa Top-5K use anti-adblocking scripts, acquired from 12 distinct entities -- some of which have a direct interest in nourishing the online advertising industry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUSENIX
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 6th USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI '16)
Place of PublicationAustin, USA
PublisherUSENIX
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event6th USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet - Hyatt Regency Austin, Austin, United States
Duration: 8 Aug 20168 Aug 2016
Conference number: 6
https://www.usenix.org/conference/foci16

Conference

Conference6th USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet
Abbreviated titleFOCI '16
CountryUnited States
CityAustin
Period8/08/168/08/16
Internet address

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  • Cite this

    Nithyanand, R., Khattak, S., Javed, M., Vallina-Rodriguez, N., Falahrastegar, M., Powles, J., ... Murdoch, S. J. (2016). Ad-Blocking and Counter Blocking: A Slice of the Arms Race. In USENIX: Proceedings of the 6th USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI '16) Austin, USA: USENIX.