Tokenizing Web Trackers and Building A Privacy Oriented Ad Network

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6 min read


Tokenizing Web Trackers and Building A Privacy Oriented Ad Network..

Hi and welcome to one of my #showerthoughts-x.

The hashtag is new, I figured I should start using a tag to help me easily sort out these contents in the future and for anyone interested in reading more of such content to follow the tag to filter and read. So yeah, today I want to theoretically describe how we could leverage blockchain technology and the power of one way hash functions to build the next generation ad network with privacy oriented tools to track and validate the authenticity of web traffic.

So as always, this is a pretty raw theory and may require a lot more deep thinking and adjustments to the concept but for experimental and informational purposes, let's see how to tokenize web trackers and build a privacy first ad network.

First I'd like to say that Web3 is going to be really difficult to build to what we as individuals in space want it to be, but once we do get there, it's going to be extremely powerful.

The concept we're going to be exploring here focusing on the underlying ad network and its analytics powered by blockchain to serve targeted ads without bridging a user's privacy.

Everybody knows that Google has access to way too many people's data, same as many centralized servers and hosting companies, at the moment, we cannot do much about websites using private servers to store user informations, but as a blockchain community, when we develop applications, we can leverage technologies that doesn't need to track users to serve them well, so today, let's theoretically build a truly privacy first ad network, shall we?

It's important to note that web browsers will still have users' information, website servers as well, the oracles will too but the end system, which is the ad network and its underlying blockchain will not, at least not in detail.

What does that mean?

What it means is that this theory proposes a network that uses identifiers to serve ads without knowing who the person is. These identifiers are created by the Web servers and used by the blockchain-based ad network to serve ads to the user.

How Would It Work?

First we have to understand how the Internet works. The reality of the Internet is that web browsers control what we see, although based on our preferences but still, they control the content we see as they are in the position to put up requests to web servers for contents to be displayed to us.

So, when a user visits a website, let's say, what happens is that the user's browser will send a request to that site's web server sharing a couple of informations about the user including the IP address , requesting content hosted on the particular link the user is visiting. The Web server retrieves the user's location using the IP address (it's not always accurate, but mostly and relatively fast) and sends back the content of that page to the browser and the browser displays it to the user in the format it received.

When a user performs some activities on the site, technologies like cookies are processed, with or without the user's knowledge, the web server creates a text file which is what is called the cookie, it could contain diverse information including login details, fill out forms, cart items and so on which it sends to the browser so that when next a user visits, these cookies will be used to offer the best browsing experience as they all say.

Why do we even need to know all these shits?

We are going to be tapping into technologies used by bitcoin, the all time famous SHA-256, and other advanced DLTs such as smart contracts, and blockchain oracles. Also, we will need to leverage machine learning which typically means AI to understand users' intents.

Our privacy ad network would need to have access to these browser data to be able to serve the right ads.

So typically, the ad network will be working with machine learning which will retrieve data from the blockchain which it will use to serve ads to the website users..

How it should work in theory

We build a smart contract and a token which is obviously needed as it will be the placeholder of the information, passed through as transaction memos. So, this smart contract will work with a blockchain oracle to receive messages from the web servers and send messages to the ad network's AI.

When a user visits a website, the browser sends the user's IP address and information on the page requested, the web server resolves the IP address of the user to retrieve the location and sends it through the oracle to the smart contract with a unique identifier. The Smart contract typically runs some of this information through the SHA-256 hash function to encrypt the original data. The most important information which is to be encrypted will be the user's IP address, however, the location, unique identifier and the page requested will not be encrypted.

This smart contract will then forward the encrypted IP address, unique identifier and all associated data to the ad network, the ad network's AI then leverages this data to serve ads. Now, each cookie the web server creates, it forwards to the smart contract with the unique identifier, the smart contract searches the blockchain for it and when spotted, it updates it with the newly obtained data, how? I would call these transactions a cell, holding user data without anyone being able to tell who the user is. So basically, what the smart contract does by updating is simply creating a new transaction linked to the previous one with that same identifier, the new information may be search queries a user makes on the site and other data. The purpose of this is so that the ad network's AI can easily access these data and determine what ads are best to serve given the most recent user behaviours on the site.

How is this privacy oriented?

The ad network really doesn't know who the user really is, all it has is a hash, an identifier and some raw data like search queries, this is because the smart contract encrypts the IP address of the user using a SHA-256 hashing algorithm which is a one way hash function, meaning you cannot tell what the data encrypted is as it cannot be decrypted.

So the ad network cannot determine a user's exact location or track their device but it knows the country, and knows the activities of the user. The AI basically uses this very basic data to guess the appropriate ads to serve without trying to log every freaking thing about the user.

Is this fraud proof?

Sure, theoretically. You see, using the blockchain means all traffic can be validated from the immutable ledger without having any knowledge about their IP addresses. The unique identifier is one way to filter traffic.

You see, the unique identifier typical identifies a user's browser and some other device level information which only the browser and the Web server knows. The IP address in this case doesn't change, so when that data is forwarded from the website through the blockchain oracles to the smart contract, the smart contract will post it as an invalid traffic which it will forward to the ad network with a flag, signalling potential fake traffic or attempt to game the system.

The ad network will then segment this under a table of traffic under a probation-like system.

So, this concept believes that somehow, when trying to manipulate Web traffic, the IP and the unique identifier will complicate matters. In a situation where the smart contract keeps receiving the same new unique identifier and numerous new basic information with an IP address previously tied to a different identifier, it would then suggest that the user simply uses multiple browsers to access the website's content which it would further consider unique.

But as usual, these are just showerthoughts.

Do leave a comment if any

I occasionally publish theoretical concepts on blockchain applications to build or how we can advance the existing applications and technologies. Follow me and the hashtag #showerthoughts-x if you're interested in reading more similar articles. Feel free to use any theories here to build your next blockchain project or develop any existing system

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