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September 17, 2008

A Conspiracy Theory: Secret Ad Serving Networks

by Anthony Verre

Is There a Secret Society of Corporations Serving Us Ads Unknowingly?

Normally, I don’t do this. Normally, I keep all my zany theories of government, the NWO (New World Order), Roswell, and Kennedy to myself. That is, of course, unless you ask me about them. Then, you deserve what you get.

Last night, while at the Brewers game, a very trusted source (who will go unnamed to protect their identity) happened to mention to me that during a client meeting, his client mentioned this “secret society” that only the largest corporations are invited. And, that’s how you get in, through private invite only: it’s kind of like Fight Club:

The first rule of Fight Club is you DO NOT TALK about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is you DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB!

At this point, I take a deep breath before continuing because the next few paragraphs of information are likely to (enter eerie music) … ruin lives, including my own.

Here’s what I know about this society (from my trusted source):

As I mentioned before, companies can only get in through private invite only. Once a company is “in”, they are then connected to a network of cloaked servers (somehow) that run parallel to the company’s servers. As most folks have their cookies set to ‘wide open’, so that we can partake in the magic of social networking and save our login information to our favorite sites, your box will accept the cookie that the company places.

Now the fun part: once the cookie is placed, it contains code to alert the secret servers. These servers then extract all the users’ cookies and analyze all the websites the user has been to previously. The servers then insert a new cookie with information about websites visited back on the user’s computer.

Once the leaves the site, the cookie stays, and if the user travels to a another site (that also has bought in to the secret society) it shows the user ads from one of the sites the user has previously been to usurping banners ads that would normally show.

Is this for real?

The best part about a conspiracy theory is that there’s enough truth for it to be plausible, but not necessarily proven. My gut instinct tells it out there and happening. However, after conducting exhaustive searches on this topic, I couldn’t really find anything except this.

The fact that cable companies are hijacking the DNS of users only further asserts that this could be, and likely is happening. If anyone else has heard on anything on this, or knows about it, feel free to drop me a line or share some insight on this “secret society”.

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