ICSE 2023
Conference paper

Adhere: Automated Detection and Repair of Intrusive Ads

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Today, more than 3 million websites rely on online advertising revenue. Despite the monetary incentives, ads often frustrate users by disrupting their experience, interrupting content, and slowing browsing. To improve ad experiences, leading media associations define Better Ads Standards for ads that are below user expectations. However, little is known about how well websites comply with these standards and whether existing approaches are sufficient for developers to quickly resolve such issues. In this paper, we propose Adhere, a technique that can detect intrusive ads that do not comply with Better Ads Standards and suggest repair proposals. Adhere works by first parsing the initial web page to a DOM tree to search for potential static ads, and then using mutation observers to monitor and detect intrusive (dynamic/static) ads on the fly. To handle ads' volatile nature, Adhere includes two detection algorithms for desktop and mobile ads to identify different ad violations during three phases of page load events. It recursively applies the detection algorithms to resolve nested layers of DOM elements inserted by ad delegations. We evaluate Adhere on Alexa Top 1 Million Websites. The results show that Adhere is effective in detecting violating ads and suggesting repair proposals. Comparing to the current available alternative, Adhere detected intrusive ads on 4,656 more mobile websites and 3,911 more desktop websites, and improved recall by 16.6% and accuracy by 4.2%.


15 May 2023


ICSE 2023