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Private-by-Design Advertising and Analytics: From Theory to Practice

  • There are a number of designs for an online advertising system that allow for behavioral targeting without revealing user online behavior or user interest profiles to the ad network. Although these designs purport to be practical solutions, none of them adequately consider the role of ad auctions, which today are central to the operation of online advertising systems. Moreover, none of the proposed designs have been deployed in real-life settings. In this thesis, we present an effort to fill this gap. First, we address the challenge of running ad auctions that leverage user profiles while keeping the profile information private. We define the problem, broadly explore the solution space, and discuss the pros and cons of these solutions. We analyze the performance of our solutions using data from Microsoft Bing advertising auctions. We conclude that, while none of our auctions are ideal in all respects, they are adequate and practical solutions. Second, we build and evaluate a fully functional prototype of a practical privacy-preserving ad system at a reasonably large scale. With more than 13K opted-in users, our system was in operation for over two months serving an average of 4800 active users daily. During the last month alone, we registered 790K ad views, 417 clicks, and even a small number of product purchases. Our system obtained click-through rates comparable with those for Google display ads. In addition, our prototype is equipped with a differentially private analytics mechanism, which we used as the primary means for gathering experimental data. In this thesis, we describe our first-hand experience and lessons learned in running the world's first fully operational “private-by-design” behavioral advertising and analytics system.

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Author:Alexey Reznichenko
URN (permanent link):urn:nbn:de:hbz:386-kluedo-39707
Advisor:Paul Francis
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language of publication:English
Publication Date:2015/01/20
Year of Publication:2015
Publishing Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Granting Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Acceptance Date of the Thesis:2014/09/26
Date of the Publication (Server):2015/01/22
Number of page:VIII, 124 S.
Faculties / Organisational entities:Fachbereich Informatik
DDC-Cassification:0 Allgemeines, Informatik, Informationswissenschaft / 004 Informatik
Licence (German):Standard gemäß KLUEDO-Leitlinien vom 28.10.2014