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Wide Open West Using NebuAD
Users don't get much of a heads up...
by Karl Bode 09:02AM Tuesday Mar 11 2008
A user for cable operator Wide Open West writes in: "Just thought you'd like to know, that I'm suspicious of my ISP, Wide Open West. I'm in the Chicagoland area, and it sure looks like they're allowing NebuAD to infect their network (sorry - my personal interpretation...I'm quite peeved about this) and altering pages to include their tracking cookies. To my knowledge I received no forewarning that they'd be trying this stunt."


Users in our Wide Open West forum confirm the deal. When we recently spoke to NebuAD's CEO about the new user-tracking network technology, he insisted that ISPs would plainly alert customers if they began using the service. However, the most WOW customers seemed to have gotten was a quietly modified terms and condition page revised in January that references NebuAD.
quote:
We may also use an advertising network provider (or providers) to help present advertisements on our website.
A revised FAQ also now makes a brief mention of the service, and at least explains how users can opt out by setting a cookie (which you must reset every time you delete them). The company defines their use of deep-packet inspection hardware to track their users for profit as such:
quote:
The ad network operates by observing anonymous user activity across the Internet. Using only non-personally identifiable information, the ad network infers a user’s interests in certain product or service categories, such as automobiles/sports cars or travel/Europe, etc. In addition to ensuring that all information used in this process is anonymous, the original non-personally identifiable information (such as historical web pages, search queries, and ads clicked) associated with a user’s interests are not stored at all. This provides an additional layer of privacy protection.
Can WOW users confirm whether they actually received any substantive warning from the provider -- either via e-mail or an alert in their bills? While NebuAD's CEO told us they've struck deals with "multiple dozens" of ISPs, few if any have been very vocal about their use of the technology.

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Dogfather
Premium
join:2007-12-26
Laguna Hills, CA

As I mentioned previously

You can't take ANYTHING the NebuAD CEO says at face value. Everything that ever comes out of any corporate spokehole's mouth whether a lower lackey or CEO is about downplaying and damage control. It's never the truth. Honesty to these guys is like sunlight to a vampire.

Millenniumle

join:2007-11-11
Fredonia, NY

1 edit

Example

Can we get an example of what shows up in web pages when under this system?

I haven't been too concerned as I have always assumed my info has been sold since day one. My ISP is also my local telco. Years ago I made the mistake of telling them the second line I had them install was for a fax line. Within a week it was blasted daily with junk faxes. I've had little doubt that all internet activity is sold in one way or another as well.

Edit: Looking through the WOW forum it looks like a few additions to the host file would nix the ads. Just the same, there is little doubt multiple parties are still getting user browsing habits and even good cookie management seems of little use when browsing is tracked at the pipe.

jgkolt
Premium
join:2004-02-21
Avon, OH

wow

From only on company website

"We may also use an advertising network provider (or providers) to help present advertisements on our website."
TO
all websites
--
Learning how to invest. Sign up to get 3 free trades for you and me each. Personal Message me. Thanks
MyDogHsFleas
Premium
join:2007-08-15
Austin, TX
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Mediacom

Re: wow

This is my question, also.

Are the ads inserted ONLY on pages of the Wide Open West website? Or, are they inserted on OTHER websites not owned by W.O.W.?

If it's the latter, I think that's a bad thing, both technically (it can screw up website views) and legally (they're on shaky ground and may be sued by the website owners).

If it's the former, I can live with it, personally.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

1 edit

1 recommendation

Re: wow

To be clear, NebuAD does not "insert" ads above or on top of existing ad arrangements. They monitor users via network hardware and then present more tailored ads in the traditional fashion via existing advertising networks.

That ad-injection system (Fair Eagle) was a rogue ISP using one of their WISP ad platforms incorrectly on a wired network in Texas.
MyDogHsFleas
Premium
join:2007-08-15
Austin, TX
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Mediacom

Re: wow

said by Karl Bode:

To be clear, NebuAD does not "insert" ads above or on top of existing ad arrangements. They monitor users via network hardware and then present more tailored ads in the traditional fashion via existing advertising networks.

That ad-injection system (Fair Eagle) was a rogue ISP using one of their WISP ad platforms incorrectly on a wired network in Texas.
OK, thanks for the info. So the website owners get paid for running the ads, even though the ads that are run are tailored via input from the NebuAD tracking service which harvests tracking information from all your website visits. Do I have it straight?

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: wow

Yep. Websites get paid the same way. Only new money is that the ISP gets mailed a check every month for sticking a deep inspection device on the network...
MyDogHsFleas
Premium
join:2007-08-15
Austin, TX
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Mediacom

Re: wow

said by Karl Bode:

Yep. Websites get paid the same way. Only new money is that the ISP gets mailed a check every month for sticking a deep inspection device on the network...
Who pays the ISP? The ad services, e.g. Google AdWords?

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: wow

NebuAD pays the ISP simply to store the device. Other ad arrangements also pay the ISP.

Anonymous_
Anonymous
Premium
join:2004-06-21
127.0.0.1
kudos:2

Re: wow

i am beting ISP are using this for illegal wire tapping for the NSA
--
Underwater bogeyman continues secret mission...

NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:11
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC

Re: wow

said by Anonymous_:

i am beting ISP are using this for illegal wire tapping for the NSA
AT&T, at least, has been wiretapping for the NSA long before the likes of NeubAd and Phorm started profiling users. More likely that the profilers are using NSA technology, not the other way around.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum

tc1uscg

join:2005-03-09
Saint Clair Shores, MI

Re: wow

said by NormanS:

said by Anonymous_:

i am beting ISP are using this for illegal wire tapping for the NSA
AT&T, at least, has been wiretapping for the NSA long before the likes of NeubAd and Phorm started profiling users. More likely that the profilers are using NSA technology, not the other way around.
... and Verizon, Sprint.. think Qwest was the only one who had the BALLS to stand back and say "Now wait a minute".. Look at'em now?

swhx7
Premium
join:2006-07-23
Elbonia
said by Karl Bode:

To be clear, NebuAD does not "insert" ads above or on top of existing ad arrangements. They monitor users via network hardware and then present more tailored ads in the traditional fashion via existing advertising networks.

That's what the Nebuad and Phorm guys have been saying in interviews recently (for example in this Register article). But what posters describe in the forum yesterday, linked in the blurb at the top, is clearly injection of foreign content (into Google homepage, for example).
MyDogHsFleas
Premium
join:2007-08-15
Austin, TX
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Mediacom

Re: wow

said by swhx7:

But what posters describe in the forum yesterday, linked in the blurb at the top, is clearly injection of foreign content (into Google homepage, for example).
I see no mention of injecting foreign CONTENT, just tracking cookies. This is quite different from injecting actual ADS onto Google, for example. You may object to the cookies but it's important to be clear on what is actually being done.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39
quote:
That's what the Nebuad and Phorm guys have been saying in interviews recently (for example in this Register article). But what posters describe in the forum yesterday, linked in the blurb at the top, is clearly injection of foreign content (into Google homepage, for example).
I believe they're confusing the issue based on those early reports about Fair Eagle doing so. I've confirmed the NebuAD model does not inject over-riding content that derails existing ad systems or over-rides a webmaster's wishes.

I can't speak to Phorm, as I've spent less time studying them, but I don't think they do that either. They're doing a number of things differently, including trying to pitch their service as an anti-phishing solution, which is pretty lame.
rmdir

join:2003-03-13
Chicago, IL

alert

The alert will be when they lower the bill because they are sharing the revenue!

POB
Res Firma Mitescere Nescit
Premium
join:2003-02-13
Stepford, CA

1 recommendation

Re: alert

said by rmdir:

The alert will be when they lower the bill because they are sharing the revenue!
You keep waiting for that one, chumly. The oldest corporate trick in the book is to claim X will lower Y and the end result is that Y almost always increases exponentially because of Z.

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4
said by rmdir:

The alert will be when they lower the bill because they are sharing the revenue!
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen!
--
You can never be too rich, too thin or have too much Bandwidth

PhoenixDown
FIOS is Awesome
Premium
join:2003-06-08
Fresh Meadows, NY
kudos:1

Cancel en masse

Pick a day and call in droves to cancel... either these companies listen and stop these bad practices or you go to better provider -- its a win/win situation for yourself.
NetKrazy

join:2007-11-29
Littleton, CO

1 edit

Re: Cancel en masse

I find this interesting, Alot of Service providers are looking to go this route, Consumers ask for ( no demand ) lower prices and increased performance at the same time. The best way for a provider to keep on that front is to leverage the existing resources they have and pick all the fruit from the money tree.

So how bad is it if un-uniquely identifiable information is shared with third parties to help offset the next rate-increase. Yes we all know higher revenue means bigger checks for 'the man' but we also know that to a degree it does trickle down in most cases, probably not as much as it should but it does.

Consumer internet connections is a wholesale industry, you can come out with the best internet connection known to man, but if you charge $300 for it nobody is going to get it. So you charge $40 and you recycle the traffic to collect ad revenue. It's the way the world is going so as sad as it is it's almost a 'get used to it' approach. In the last 3-6 months there have been DNS redirection via NX domain advertising. Just Monday the article about Phorm makes the links. The notion of going to another ISP becomes "Meet your new provider same as the old provider". Bottom line ISP's won't survive as the 'dumb pipe' they need to milk every monetizable (is this a word?) resource they can.

PhoenixDown
FIOS is Awesome
Premium
join:2003-06-08
Fresh Meadows, NY
kudos:1

Re: Cancel en masse

Why can't ISP's survive as a "dumb pipe"?

Cisco and other CPE retailers are nothing more than a "dumb" equipment provider. Their products have been commoditized yet they still make a healthy profit even without their service contracts.
NetKrazy

join:2007-11-29
Littleton, CO

Re: Cancel en masse

Well I wouldn't ever think to compare a hardware based company to the service provider realm. CPE retailers get caught up in 'throw away' devices newer bigger better constantly require upgrades and after initial development costs that single investment can drive millions in revenue. And ofcourse for a service provider to meet the demands of it's customers they have to go back to cisco for newer better and bigger.

Now, can a provider survive as a 'dumb pipe' yes, I should have been clearer in my statement. They can but that life would probably not be long lived as someone who is utilizing their resources more. When you begin to compare what it costs to upgrade and maintain the network it becomes a cascade of problems. When a good portion of those problems do come from the customer. I made this comparison in another article about the cost between a T1 and a cablemodem A DS3 and a cablemodem have a huge price difference, while people are quick to point out the differences in service levels customers are quick to shop around and complain when the service isn't on-par.

I think the biggest thing that stands to say why as a 'dumb pipe' a provider won't survive is the direction the industry is heading. The debates over p2p and VOIP for example. Today more and more companies are using the 'backbone' of the service provider to drive their business, This means increased usage that the service provider has to react against while never seeing any increase in revenue. So they have but a few options as consumers passively or knowingly consume more. Increase rates to meet the demand on the consumer (which is never good), start billing the third party for access (OMG Net Neutrality), or monetize the traffic that's already flowing. The big driver, ofcourse offer more for less to the end user in an attempt to keep them as a customer. Ultimately I think this is the biggest driving factor that upgrades and improvements have to happen without per-say an increase in revenue from the customer. But the upgrades that have to happen and in-turn help the CPE guys as you said, the customer and the 'third parties' all carried on the back of the provider.

Not saying I'm right or that I know better purely my opinion.

swhx7
Premium
join:2006-07-23
Elbonia
said by PhoenixDown:

Why can't ISP's survive as a "dumb pipe"?

Because of the nature of capitalism: investors demand ever-rising profits. If profits remain the same or fall, management will be replaced. Investment will move to other companies that exploit customers and employees more intensively.

said by PhoenixDown:

Cisco and other CPE retailers are nothing more than a "dumb" equipment provider. Their products have been commoditized yet they still make a healthy profit even without their service contracts.

These companies make products, not services. They can continually make new versions, add features, change pricing, fix bugs, and other things to keep revenue rising. Also the products are not really commoditized yet; Cisco for example benefits from a perception of high quality, some proprietary interfaces, features that competitors don't have, etc., though the others (Juniper, open source) are making some progress. It's not generic like "dumb pipe" internet.

jester121
Premium
join:2003-08-09
Lake Zurich, IL
said by PhoenixDown:

Cisco and other CPE retailers are nothing more than a "dumb" equipment provider. Their products have been commoditized yet they still make a healthy profit even without their service contracts.
You haven't looked at Cisco's product line much lately have you? It's all about their IDS/IPS offerings, inspecting packets and analyzing content.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA
Better yet - complain to the FCC.
--
Canada = Hollywood North
patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
Your going to go back to dialup if both the telephone and cable company get it?
doormans

join:2002-11-17
Roseville, MI

No notifacations

I myself was not notified by WOW of the change in their TOS. I don't believe anyone was notified. I guess its up to us, the end user to go to their website daily and look for changes. Since they are a very inexpensive isp, they are probably making up revenue with this venture.

JDMac8
Premium
join:2007-03-17
Westland, MI

Re: No notifacations

Since most ISPs take the we can change our TOS whenever we damn well please just by posting it on our site stance, I'm not surprised that I haven't received any kind of overt notice regarding the change. Disappointing? Yes.

With the exception of their low bandwidth offerings, there is really not much to differentiate WOW! from a cost perspective from other high speed offerings in my area.

For reference, I was the first on my block to get WOW! Internet (then WideOpenWest) nearly 6 years ago. While I have been a fairly staunch advocate of WOW! since switching from a different cable company, this news coming the same day as notification from the Death Star that U-verse is now available at my home is prompting some serious decision making.

Pv8man999

@sbcglobal.net

I've had WOW for about 4 years now

Had no trouble with WOW up until a month or 2 ago, very slow browsing on common websites that are usually fast, sometimes latency is randomly slow.

Also, been sent to random ad infested websites when typing in the name of a known site, and no I'm not just infected either.

Mr Wow

@wideopenwest.com

I fired up a sniffer on WOW

I fired up a Sniffer on WOW, and went to www.google.com and had the following cookies inserted. Their own customer service staff deny this. I emailed the head of their custmoer service group (still waiting a response). If I can't completely opt out of this then I'll go and put up with the crappy comcrap service until they start pulling this crap.

BTW, it takes longer for www.google.com to load now.

a.faireagle.com
ad.yieldmanager.com
ads.addynamix.com
adtrgt.com
burstnet.com
contextweb.com
doubleclick.net
fastclick.net
nebuad.adjuggler.com
network.realmedia.com
realmedia.com
trafficmp.com

Pv8man999

@wideopenwest.com

Re: I fired up a sniffer on WOW

Yes, Google has been very slow for me too, I had a feeling it was WOW

Smith6612
Premium,MVM
join:2008-02-01
North Tonawanda, NY
kudos:24
Reviews:
·Verizon Online DSL
·Frontier Communi..

I'm all set...

First of all, I am no where near WOW's service area. Also, for anyone who wants to block ads and those cookies, just deny the sites listed above to write cookies on your hard drive in your browser properties, and if you have Firefox or some other software that has/supports ad-blocking, enable it. That way, this will be pretty much defeated.
doormans

join:2002-11-17
Roseville, MI

Re: I'm all set...

Actually most people here or in the WOW forums are savvy enough computer wise to be able to block or eliminate this. But what about mom or pops or gramps who doesn't know any better with no access to help? Kind of sucks for them. I understand WOW has an opt out, but it wants to set a cookie for that, which to me means that their tracking my opt out. Opt out means don't put anything on my computer with out my permission. Period.
Pascal

join:2003-11-16
Streamwood, IL
Reviews:
·Comcast

Their "technology" has another limitation too

In order for their "technology" (using the term very loosely here) to work they have to have the source for the web page you are viewing. Unfortunately they did not bother coding in support for compression, so they just corrupt the header from your browser. WOW users goto »www.ericgiguere.com/tools/http-h···wer.html and look for a header named "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" with a value of "+++++++++++++". This is what is left of your "accept-encoding" header. It would normally have a value of "gzip,deflate" and is what tells a web server to send you a compressed copy of a webpage. HTML is highly redundant and can compress to less than 10% of its original size. »www.whatsmyip.org/mod_gzip_test/···LmNvbQ== shows you an example and tells you specifically whether or not your browser's request for a compressed page is making it through.

•••

Oblonsky

@btcentralplus.com

Phorm is pretty much the same as NebuAD

I'm from the UK and confirm that Phorm is pretty much the same as NebuAD in terms of service provided, but what about the implementation?

Techies this is a MUST READ if you're at all concerned about what could be going on behind the scenes with your packets:
»www.badphorm.co.uk/e107_plugins/···.php?548

Can't speak for NebuAD's implementation, but I've spent 4 weeks studying Phorm.

O.
NetKrazy

join:2007-11-29
Littleton, CO

So it's new ads just like the old ads

So, everyone who opens a browser is used to these days seeing an ad on most any website you goto. Tucked into the sidebar or off the top as a banner plastered on the front of the page. Personally I object to popups that make a user 'take action' to close or remove but in the case of well placed adds on a site those are as much a fact of life as they are just simply common place.

Most of these companies have changed their model where they aren't sitting in line and re-writing packets to/from the website or the customer, not to say all of them are not but most are now passively seeing traffic. So why or how does it matter if the ad 'content' doesn't change from the existing site but then instead becomes more relative to the stuff you are interested in. If you spend 90% of your day surfing car parts websites would you rather goto some other site and see an add for Tide laundry detergent, or an ad for some new auto parts company offering 50% off all parts?

wlmiii

@rr.com

Re: So it's new ads just like the old ads

The point is this - I'm paying for the service, so there should not be any ads at all, period. The income is coming from my pocket, therefore there is no need for advertisers to pay since it's already paid for by me.

popper9

@ntl.com

so your happy your ISP is pirating your personal clickstream

Im in the UK and i thought id finally get a round to reading this thread as its somewhat related to the UK (and soon the US)Phorm subject, after reading this admitedly very small thread it seems your happy your ISP is pirating your personal (clickstream) data?.

dont you have any data protection act, or RIPA type legislation in your country ?

it seems very odd that the US tech users here and elsewere wouldnt see the exact same problems the UK users are seeing with all this type of unlawful 'profiling for profit'

is the patent for your data collection device potentially far less intusive than the Phorm patent or is this apathy to your property being used for your supplyers profit a US thing?

stop the press:
care of the US NY times and LadyMinion at
»www.cableforum.co.uk/board/12/33···34510801 for first spoting it.
»www.nytimes.com/2008/03/20/busin···ef=busin ess
Quote:
” As you browse, we’re able to categorize all of your Internet actions ,” said Virasb Vahidi, the chief operating officer of Phorm. ” We actually can see the entire Internet .”

The company, called Phorm, has created a tool that can track every single online action of a given consumer, based on data from that person’s Internet service provider.”

what do you make of that then, puts a while new meaning to official statments such as

“Phorm technology is groundbreaking because it serves relevant advertising without storing data: no PII no IP address no browsing histories.”

and all the rest, dont you think?.

i wonder what the UK and EU data commissioners and the courts will make of it,to name but three, comments….

rangersftw

@comcast.net

Re: so your happy your ISP is pirating your personal clickstream

I think us in the US just understand that tracking is done continually when you surf websites, for example by networks like doubleclick etc. Having it done at the ISP level is a technical distinction without a real difference to the user.

If they tied it to your identity, or if it even could be tied a la AOL's disclosure a few years ago things would be different.