Browser plugin identifies advertorial content

We’ve all seen advertisements masquerading as editorial content—not on TR, of course, but elsewhere on the web. These “advertorials” are becoming increasingly prevalent, and they’re not always clearly demarcated. Thankfully, there’s now a way to sniff out this insidious content. Google programmer Ian Webster has created AdDetector, a plugin for Chrome and Firefox that identifies so-called “native advertising.”

Webster reportedly created AdDetector in his spare time, and the plugin sounds pretty slick. It’s capable of detecting advertorial content even when the clues are buried in source code rather than plainly visible on the page. If sponsored content is detected, a red bar is displayed across the top of the browser window. The sponsor’s name is shown if it’s available.

Although some Chrome extensions are misbehaving, this one should be legit. Webster notes that user data is “never used, stored, or transmitted.” The plugin’s full source code is available on Github, too, for those who want to audit or contribute to the project. Let’s hope advertisers can’t use the source to avoid detection.

I’ve noticed a definite uptick in sponsored content on some of the sites that I read, but now I’m wondering how much of it I’ve missed. Hiding disclosure in the page source is sneaky business indeed. I might start running AdDetector just to figure out which sites are disguising their use of paid content—and then avoid visiting them entirely. Thanks to Engadget for the tip.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 5 years ago

    Well, practically speaking, news feeds on review sites such as TR [u<]ARE[/u<] advertisements. I'm not talking about product reviews, I'm talking about news feeds that merely inform people that Company X has released so and so or is planning to release so and so next month or so. It's the new way of making people know about products. For example, I wouldn't know that Gigabyte has a new board called the 'GA-Z97 AMD Fanboi Basher-Pro Ultimate V' if TR or some other news site doesn't put it up on their news feed. Sure, I can check out Gigabyte's website to see what they have but the same could be said for banner ads and such. These news feeds are practically text ads that open up pages containing more info about the product, cleverly disguised as 'news.' And of course, would review sites put the product on their news feed without a little 'push' from the said companies? Companies know the importance of review sites in reaching out to a loyal community and they know all too well to push their products into our 'news feed'.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 5 years ago

    Sweet. I should try this on a Alien Colonial Marines review article that gave the game a 9/10 when everyone else was giving it less than 6/10.

    • Chrispy_
    • 5 years ago

    Installed, thanks.

    Even if it’s obviously paid propoganda, the number of times I waste thirty seconds reading the first paragraph/page before realising probably adds up to several minutes a week, or several hours a year.

    • uni-mitation
    • 5 years ago

    Those content creators that think Native Advertising is a sure, risk-free way to pad their coffers are sadly mistaken. The public at large will grow a distinct distaste for such underhanded tactics. It is of greater importance in the realm of journalism where independent journalism must be kept separate from the corroding influence of marketeers.

    • LauRoman
    • 5 years ago

    Doesn’t seem to work on TechCrunch or Neowin. Some articles on those sites are technically not advertorials but they are darn close.

      • Rectal Prolapse
      • 5 years ago

      I tried it on Anandtech, but it didn’t work! I thought they were supposed to be the competent marketing arm of AMD? Have i been mislead?

    • MadManOriginal
    • 5 years ago

    My wetware has built-in advertorial detection. It always seems quite obvious to me when someone is pushing a product or agenda. Being generally knowledgeable helps too, when I see some content that conflicts with other, more legit sources it’s obvious.

      • GrimDanfango
      • 5 years ago

      In other news, MMO wonders why so many stupid people are susceptible to all those silly psychological marketing tricks, considering none of that rubbish works on him!

      (Hint: If you’re certain you’re immune to it, it’s actually working twice as well on you)

        • snook
        • 5 years ago

        I believe MMO is trying to sell us something.

      • September
      • 5 years ago

      Can you download this knowledge to my kids?

    • alloyD
    • 5 years ago

    I’m loving the new transparency tool trend with stuff like this and [url=<]Greenhouse[/url<]. The easier we make transparency, the better.

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