Advertising to Interest Groups without tracking

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It does appear as if we’re taking a step backwards by removing trust choices for people. In no other industry do we require someone to understand the entire supply chain of a vendor. Imagine purchasing a car and having to receive a full list of all the suppliers to the automobile manufacturer. People trust the vendor AND their supply chain.

Hi Kris: Note that the major open questions in the “Creating an Audience” section included both “What techniques can be used to add people to interest groups” and “What minimum size an interest group ought to have”.

I think these cover what you said you want to weigh in on, right? Of course the questions listed here aren’t the only things we need to resolve during incubation, but it’s a good sign that we’re on the right track.

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Hi James: I’m not sure what you mean by confirm that what we end up with is indeed “improved”. This is about adding a new capability (“Advertising to interest groups without tracking”), and the question here is whether we should incubate a design — whether it is a valuable thing which browsers should implement and the web ecosystem will use.

Regarding “taking a step backwards by removing trust choices for people” and “full list of all the suppliers”, I’m not sure how it relates to this proposal. I also dislike the UX of consent boxes with large lists of vendors, but I don’t think anything in this proposal is related to that problem.

Yup, sorry Michael. I wasn’t saying it was missed. I was just weighing in on why I think it’s important.

@michaelkleber The justification for this proposal is to address privacy concerns and increase people’s satisfaction with the ads they see. Correct?

If so how do we know if these outcomes are achieved by these proposals? Are there any drawbacks or problems generated by the proposal not directly related to the justifications? How do the proposals compare to one another when measured against these outcomes?

If we don’t know how we’ll address these questions incubation is premature.

Does this make sense now?

My second comment related to a “step backwards” is a general observation about the current situation of consent, trust and verification.

Hi James: The justification for this proposal is to (1) enable a bunch of ad ecosystem use cases (2) in a way that browsers will be happy to ship.

Many use cases described in the Web Adv BG’s " Advertising Use Cases" doc include notes on how they can be accomplished with TURTLEDOVE, SPARROW, or other variants in this idea space like Facebook’s PETREL.

Browsers have already published privacy and anti-tracking stances, which is why we think it’s valuable to design a way to meet those use cases but which doesn’t enable tracking.

@michaelkleber - I’m struggling to understand how the “way that browsers will be happy to ship” is a justification. It is a constraint.

As I understand this proposal it is part of an initiative called Privacy Sandbox. Correct?

The blog describing the objectives of Privacy Sandbox states “We are looking to build a more trustworthy and sustainable web together, and to do that we need your continued engagement. We encourage you to give feedback…”

I have responded. I’ve joined the W3C and I’m leaning in, taking an active role. If we’re to build a more trustworthy and sustainable web, which meets all the values and goals of the W3C, we need to define what success looks like. That includes questioning and validating the anti-tracking stances of browsers which might work against the goals of an open web for all.

So the justification of this proposal is singularly “enabling a bunch of ad ecosystem use cases”. We need a method of establishing how proposals are measured against one another and the impacts they have on all the stakeholders. How do you propose this pre-requisite is achieved?

That is strictly not a pre-requisite to incubation.

FWIW, we’re trying to nail down the browser-side constraints on solutions in this space in the PING Target Privacy Threat Model. That threat model isn’t final, so if you find things you don’t like, please file issues and PRs.

@yoavweis - as a new participant I’m in no position to dispute your knowledge of the bureaucracy.

Like many other new participants, I’ve joined because the W3C and Google sought wider stakeholder engagement and dialogue. As an engaged new participant, I can observe the merits of this proposal are widely disputed, particular when considering the needs of publishers and marketers. See following evidence:

There are wider ramifications for societies and people. I hope the UK’s CMA report into digital advertising due to be published on the 3rd July will provide some insight into these matters.

I also observe many new participants and organisations do not have the time or numbers of people to follow all the different groups, documents and dependencies between them. Only the very largest participants who have the budgets to dedicate many of the brightest and the best people are able to do so. As a consequence the bureaucracy favours the largest participants.

Until these “tussles” are resolved there is no justification to progress this proposal.

I don’t understand if this is evidence that personalized ads are unimportant or super important, as the different links point to studies with extremely different conclusions.

Since you’re a new participant, let me try to explain how this Community Group works. This CG’s role is not to block new proposals or require them to somehow justify their existence to all participants.

The CG’s role is to help participants incubate new proposals, help them establish the use-cases they are trying to solve, find other interested parties, and then design a solution that can solve those use cases. As long as there are multiple parties that are interested in solving a use-case, that’s enough “justification” to create a repo and allow people to work.

People trust the vendor AND their supply chain.

Um, I’m pretty sure don’t. That’s why we have complete end-to-end check to see if the whole supply chain is ethical, and companies built around that.


This seems like a reasonable proposal, @michaelkleber. I’d be supportive of seeing you explore it further and to see what would need to change/added to browsers to help something like this happen.


People who trust a publisher to provide them free content in return for viewing advertising do. That is the value exchange.

There are laws created to sanction bad actors who perform bad acts.

Is there a specification or implementation that provides this level of verification across the supply chain?

Precisely. There is a debate to be had and it is happening at the W3C Improving Web Advertising Business Group already.

Creating new groups which duplicate existing work and groups is a classic case of “the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy”. Only people from organisations with the resources and time, such as browser vendors, are realistically able to participate. This then skews the outcome towards those narrow set of stakeholders to the detriment of all others.

Resolving the existing known issues associated with the proposal must precede any further work which will skew the outcome.

People who trust a publisher to provide them free content in return for viewing advertising do. That is the value exchange.

Users who learn that their private information is being sold and that they are being tracked are horrified by this. This is not a value exchange: It’s an abuse of people’s trust and consent without their knowledge - why browsers are cracking down on these practices.

There are laws created to sanction bad actors who perform bad acts.

The laws are insufficient due to corruption of the political process by special interests (see the US, for instance). This is why browsers and other folks are having to intervene.

Is there a specification or implementation that provides this level of verification across the supply chain?

Yes. Why most browsers are open source and allow users to modify preferences to protect themselves. See also Mozilla’s missions statement, and the track protection work done by browser vendors.

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I apologize if someone gave you the impression the BGs can gate-keep what other folks are working on. That’s not the case.

If they were informed and consented then they participated in a value exchange which funded journalism and other services. Journalism is essential to a functioning democracy. Those people would be happy. I assert they are the majority, and their requirement is to ensure their consent and trust choices are respected.

Is that your personal opinion or the position of Mozilla?

The issue is one of monitoring the supply chain and reporting bad acts and bad actors so that they can be sanctioned by the laws that already exist or may exist in the future. I’m unaware of any work being done by browser vendors or the W3C to certify the supply chain and report compliance to the person using the browser or regulators. As a newbie I may have missed the group working on this problem.

@michaelkleber, can you email me at marcos at and I can help you move your repo over. Alternatively, we can spin up a new repository for you. Let us know how you would like to proceed.


Thank you. I understand that. How do we prevent multiple groups working on the same thing resulting in more complexity and difficulty for those trying to follow and contribute? This is a particularly acute problem for participants from smaller organisations.

How should we ensure that a proposal, no matter how it’s implemented in practice, provides an improvement to the web and all it’s stakeholders? A great deal of additional work is generated if a proposal is developed, only to find that it would never have achieved an improvement.

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