Behavioral targeting is a type of online advertising where ads are displayed based on the users web-browsing behavior. The user leaves a trail of digital foot prints moving from one website to the other. Behavioral targeting anonymously monitors and tracks the sites visited by a user. When a user surfs internet, the pages they visit, the searches they make, location of the user browsing from, device used for browsing and many other inputs are used by the tracking sites to collect data. A user profile is created from the data and data- mined for an online behavioral pattern of the user. As a result when users return to a specific site or a network of sites, the created user profiles are helpful in reaching the targeted audience to advertise. The targeted ads will fetch more user interest, the publisher (or seller) can charge a premium for these ads over random advertising or ads based on the context of a site.

The objective of this lab is to understand the working model of web tracking. In this lab students need to browse E-commerce websites, view details of one or more products and observe the advertisements displayed on the open-source social networking website Elgg. Students will also understand how the third party cookies are used in collecting the user digital foot prints when browsing from one web application to another. The E-commerce websites and the Elgg web application is pre-configured on our VM.

Lab Tasks (Description)

  • For instructors: if you prefer to customize the lab description to suit your own courses, here are our Latex source files.
  • VM version: This lab has been tested on our pre-built SEEDUbuntu12.04 VM.

Recommended Time:

  • Unsupervised situation (e.g. take-home project): 1 week

Helpful Links

SEED Project