on 08-01-2010 09:57
Has anyone else experienced the following happening to them or can tell me why it is happening.
On logging on through Internet Explorer to my home page, which is the Virgin media.com home page, I was surprised to see an advertising banner at the top of the page, advertising the very item I had recently searched for on the M&S website. This was flowers. The banners at the top and down the sides of the Virgin Media.Com homepage are always there, but it has never before shown advertising for the very item I had recently searched for. I closed the homepage down and re-opened it. The M&S banner was gone - however it had been replaced by a Camerabox advertising banner at the top - again showing the very item (Panasonic TZ7 camera) that I had recently searched for. I did this several more times and they kept appearing every now and then.
This is no coincidence. Also these were not pop-up ads, these were banner ads on the virgin media.com homepage.
Can anyone explain how this is happening.
Is this down to Virgin or down to the individual retailers. This has happened to me once before a fair few months ago, but hasn't happened in between. The last time I deleted all my cookies and they stopped appearing.
However I want to know who is keeping a record of my browsing and then showing me advertising for these very searches.
I got no replies the last time I posted this problem several months back, and Virgin were completely unhelpful. If someone could assist I would be very grateful.
08-01-2010 10:13 - edited 08-01-2010 10:18
More than likely it's Google http://www.google.com/ads/preferences/html/intl/en
Virgin Media do use targeting advertising on it's own site e.g. if you look at virginmedia.com/money you will get more financial ads on virginmedia.com, but it doesn't track usage off Virginmedia.com nor does it affect adverts on any other site. Usage on My Virgin Media, E-mail and the Forums are also not tracked
on 08-01-2010 22:46
Yes I have. A well known high street retailer appears when I buy something from them on line. An a film for Virgin Filmflex appears shortly after I downloaded the sound track. I am awaiting a response from Virgin regarding this.
on 09-01-2010 09:37
I have disabled this as per the link. Can you just confirm that Virgin uses AdSense. From reading the link, it would appear that the virginmedia.com website would have to use AdSense for this to be the problem.
09-01-2010 17:51 - edited 09-01-2010 18:11
The site you are on right now uses Omniture (click the Powered by Lithium link at the bottom of these pages to see the advertising/tracking partners)
For Virginmedia.com you are being tracked/targetted by....
To help block them all use a hosts file
But there are ways of getting around you using a hosts file so also use
Firefox to browse the web, and a few helpfull plugins....
Also recently Locally shared objects (Flash cookies) are taking over from traditional cookies to track what you do online, some companies going as far as storing normal cookies inside a flash cookie (because browsers like firefox have the ability to clean out your cookies based on your preferences, so they have chosen to squirrel them away using this method to resurrect them intact with all previously stored data about you when your browser opens up again), to stop that the only way is to use Adobe's online settings manager....
You have to go through each of the tabs there and restrict all aspects, but its not reliable, sometimes you can go back there and your settings have been reset to adobe flash defaults.
I mention this because recently Adobe I think have bought Omniture
Another method of blocking flash (and silverlight) cookies here.....
EDIT: If you use Firefox, newer versions by default have Geo-Location capabilities switched on by default. To turn that off its not so easy as going into preferences.
In the address bar type About:config
You will get a warning about dragons
Just click Ill be carefull
Then you will get a filter bar under your tabs, type geo in there
now look down the list for geo.enabled
double click that line to set its value as false
All the above seems a bit long winded, but if you value your privacy and not being susceptible to being redirected... its getting ridiculously complicated these days to stay on top of it all. Sorry but thats just the way it is.
Dont forget Virgins own Page error re-direction service too which they kindly turned on for you without asking if you wanted it or not, Opt-out here -
It should be Opt-in, not Opt-out, but they will not do it that way because less people would be likely to take it and so achieve less advertising revenue (leeching from customers who thought they were only paying for a pipe to the internet not a bundle of targetted tracking/advertising aswell), currently they are getting away with it.
on 09-01-2010 18:51
Forgot to mention, if you use Ghostery add-on for firefox, be sure to go into its preferences and select block ALL of its database of known web tracking. Its not on to start with, just warns you.
Another helper for this kind of thing is spywareblaster (be careful you get the right one, there are imitators with less helpful purposes)...
Once installed do an update then enable protection for all browsers, it does not do this automatically, same as the hosts file, I just update the two of them once a month.
on 10-01-2010 08:28
Wow thanks n0mn0m. That's one of the most comprehensive replies I've seen in a while. I'll print it out and go through it all. I'm not the most technical of people, but I do keep trying to improve.
10-01-2010 13:17 - edited 10-01-2010 13:32
Just a couple of further notes in using the above
No-Script - When using it in firefox has a pop up menu in the bottom right of firefox window. If you get trouble with some things not working on any particular website, and you trust the website, use the Temporarily allow options for the site, dont just allow the website because that will save preferences for the site permanently - and times change, what previously was trustworthy may in the future have a change of economic priorities and terms and conditions (like virgin media) and you may regret allowing their scripts permanently.
The hosts file - May look complicated but is well worth investing getting your head around it. Once you get used to it, it takes like two minutes to update.
The best thing about the hosts file is it affects all communications from your computer, anything (and I mean anything) trying to contact a site/link that is listed in the hosts file, will be blocked.
Any browser you use, or messengers, or even a virus that managed to get on your computer if the location it uses to report to mother is in the hosts file the virus wont be able to phone home.
When using the hosts file you will occasionally see holes in a web page, bad links/adverts that you would previously have been un-aware of and clicked on, are now blocked.
To use it, on the site http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm
Go down to this bit.....
|To view the HOSTS file in plain text form. (612 kb) (opens in browser)|
Note: The text version also makes a terrific reference for determining possible unwanted connections
Download: hosts.zip [right-click - Select: Save Target As] [Updated DEC-22-2009]
When you right click and save target as just direct it to somewhere convenient on your hard drive, then go to the downloaded zip, right click on that and extract it. You will have five new files.
The one with a picture of gears on it is the hosts.bat file, if using windows XP just double click it and the jobs done. If using Vista or windows 7, right click the hosts.bat file and choose Run as Administrator.
Edit: Just noticed the download: hosts.zip above works here too , I copied the link directly from the mvps hosts site.
Once you have run the hosts.bat file and the hosts file has been updated by that, the downloaded hosts.zip and the five extracted files can be deleted. Just keep a bookmark in your browser for the download link and do the same procedure once a month. It isn't updated more regularly than that because the job of weeding out the bad from the good is a bit of a mountainous task, and they have to make sure they are blocking sites for the right reasons so as not to get themselves in any legal pickles. Thousands of sites are created every month with the sole purpose of being temporary redirections for porn/warez/malware.... as soon as they have achieved their aims and so they do not get caught - they move on.
10-01-2010 14:18 - edited 10-01-2010 14:46
One further good thing about the hosts file (sorry if I am banging on about this but it really cant be recommended enough)..
After its installed it helps protect every user on the same computer, not just the administrator. So if your kids have seperate user accounts on that machine, they will also benefit from not being led astray, because every user account will use the same hosts file.
Be wary also of tools/apps you download which also try to install other things, always go for customize installation and dont just let it install everything. Very rarely is anything really free.
Typically I see peoples setups with loads of browser toolbars and they have no idea how they got there or what they do lol. Social network sites are becoming rife with apps/games which are free... ask yourself why. Then have fun trying to get rid of them, you will find in some cases they have spidered deep into your setup, not only installing toolbars but also browser helper objects in many varieties, auto startup programs, more system tray icons, sheduled startups... the machine you once had that started within a minute now takes ten just to get to windows, and your hard drive is constantly being accessed. One day it becomes impossible to do anything with and then you wonder "How do I get this back to how it was?", did you make a backup of your operating system?, did the machine come with operating system install disks?
This subject is a menace.