AdIntuition Tool Study

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Download AdIntuition?
Click Here For Google Chrome
Click Here For FireFox
What Is AdIntuition?
AdIntuition is a browser extension that alerts YouTube users when they watch a video containing a sponsorship. An influencer may endorse a product on social media, but it can be unclear if they were paid to endorse the product or if they genuinely endorse it without any incentive. The purpose of this research project was to automatically detect and disclose sponsored content to relieve users of the uncertainty about endorsements.
With the help of automatic disclosure software, content creators can no longer be deceptive about endorsements and viewers would be informed about any relationship between a social media influencer and a brand. AdIntuition is an automatic affiliate marketing disclosure tool that allows users to form an opinion about the content of a post with full information about sponsorships.
What Are The Benefits Of Using AdIntuition?
AdIntuition lets the user know when affiliate marketing content is present in a YouTube video. For you, the user, this takes the guessing game out of what videos have affiliate marketing and which ones do not.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
AdIntuition flags affiliate marketing, one type of social media marketing. In this type of marketing, a social media influencer provides a special link or coupon code, in addition to their endorsement of a product, in order to drive users to buy the product. Often a deal or promotion is given to users in the marketing campaign. The social media influencer is given a commission based off of the sales that they generate. Anyone can join an affiliate program.
Affiliate Marketing
Why Does AdIntuition Flag Affiliate Marketing Content?
AdIntuition focuses on affiliate marketing because there is a source of truth on a post. An affiliate link must track where the Internet traffic is being generated from, so there will be some tracker in the URL in order to identify the origin of the traffic. Coupon codes exist to track where a customer was sourced from. Moreover, a content creator is given an incentive to include links and coupon codes because they want any traffic that they generate to be associated with their post. The affiliate influencer only gets paid when their link is used, so any traffic that they generate to the website that does not use their link is lost potential earnings. Because of the incentive, affiliate posts will almost always have an affiliate link or coupon code present, which means that AdIntuition has a source of truth to detect.
Other forms of social media marketing may not contain a source of truth that can be detected, such as a direct, lump sum payment or free product samples that are sent to the influencer. The only way to check for the presence of these types of marketing would be to see bank statements or mail records. Therefore, these types of social media marketing are not currently flagged by AdIntuition.
How Does AdIntuition Work?
AdIntuition checks the description of YouTube videos for the presence of known affiliate marketing link patterns and coupon codes. In affiliate marketing, there must be some way to track where users originate from. AdIntuition checks for the presence of these trackers in order to determine if affiliate marketing is present. The full list of known affiliate links can be viewed here. UTM parameters in the URL query string are also checked. Finally, coupon codes are found in the description by a classifier that we built.

Data Privacy

By default, AdIntuition stores data about its users. Each time that a piece of information is stored, it is sent to the secure servers at Princeton University. Each user is given a completely random user id that is used to distinguish between users of the extension. This random user id allows us to anonymize the data and minimize risk to individual users.
What Information Does AdIntuition Store?
Depending on the video type, AdIntuition will store differing information:

  • If the video does not contain any affiliate marketing, then the user ID, date and time, and that the user watched a video are logged. We do not log what video is watched in this case. This information is near anonymous.
  • If the video contains affiliate marketing then the user id, date and time, the type of affiliate marketing content, the highlighted portion of the description, and the video ID for the video being watched are saved. In our initial study, we found that only 1.2% of a random sample of half of a million YouTube videos contained affiliate marketing content. The actual amount of this data that you will be sending to AdIntuition is very small.

AdIntuition does not track:

  • Your location
  • Your IP address
  • Your name
  • Any other personally identifiable information
Where Is The Information Stored?
The information is stored on Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers. Many large companies, such as Netflix, Hertz, Adobe, Airbnb, and NASA, use and trust AWS. These companies have much more sensitive data.
Why Should I Trust AdIntuition With My Data?
  • We are open source. The code is viewable here. Edits can be suggested through pull requests, allowing for anyone to look at the code and contribute to the project.
  • This project was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Princeton University. This protects the rights and welfare of humans participating in research, including those who are using AdIntuition and allow for the collection of their data. It is supervised by Professor Marshini Chetty.
  • We will not share the data with anyone beyond our team. Our team is strictly interested in the research opportunities that the data will provide. We will not share your data for commercial purposes.
How Can I Check What Information AdIntuition Has Stored About Me?
You can see information stored about you using the Settings page available by clicking on the extension icon in the top right corner of your browser and then clicking on the purple Settings button. Inside of this settings page, there is a button that says “Download Your Data”. This will download a CSV on your computer that contains all entries from the database with your randomly generated user id. The file size is limited to 1MB, which will contain, based on the average element size, about 9500 elements. In practice, this limit will not be reached quickly.
How Can I Manage The Information AdIntuition Has Stored About Me?
You can delete recent information using the Settings page available by clicking on the extension icon in the top right corner of your browser and then clicking on the purple Settings button.
Any specific requests can be made via email to adintuitiondetection@gmail.com. For individual records, a user id and transaction id will be necessary, both of which can be found in the CSV that is downloaded by clicking on the “Download your Data” button.
Note: Uninstalling the extension means that your user id is lost and cannot be recovered. If you uninstall without saving your user id, then your data cannot be recovered.
Why Does AdIntuition Collect User Data?
  • Research: There is no publicly available data about a user’s interactions with affiliate marketing content. Collecting data allows for us, the researchers, to understand how prevalent affiliate marketing content is in the real world and to figure out how much of an issue it is.
  • Crowd Intelligence: AdIntuition can be improved by collecting data. The classifier that checks for coupon codes can be improved by collecting more instances of coupon codes. Moreover, improperly flagged coupon codes will also be logged, allowing us to gain data about how to better prevent these errors.
What Do You Do With The Data Collected?
 We will release our findings in a journal/conference publication. We plan to figure out affiliate marketing practices and how it affects users then share this aggregate data with people so that we can better address the misleading practices of affiliate marketers. We hope the increased transparency to encourage content creators to be less sneaky about their endorsements.
How Long Will You Keep The Data? What’s Your Data Retention Policy?
Our goal is to balance reproducibility and privacy. In particular, we should retain the data long enough for any external researchers to challenge our findings, but not too long such that the data is forgotten or breached. We anticipate holding the data for about a year.
Would AdIntuition Sell The Data For Commercial Purposes?
No. AdIntuition is a research project.

Using AdIntuition

Upon downloading AdIntuition, the extension should automatically work. Any open YouTube videos will need to be refreshed for AdIntuition to inspect them.
Are There Any Risks To Running AdIntuition?
  • Performance Degradation: AdIntuition is a browser extension and therefore runs code on top of the code that is already run in the browser to deliver web content to users. The additional computation and web traffic that is generated by AdIntuition may result in slightly slower performance.In practice, though, the performance has not been noticeably affected under our test conditions. That said, AdIntuition is provided “as is.” We have not comprehensively tested AdIntuition on all devices or with all possible configurations. As a result, it may fail to work.
  • Data Breach: In the unlikely event that our secure server is compromised, an attacker will have access to the collected data by AdIntuition should you agree to share your information. However, the attacker will likely be unable to infer your individual browsing patterns because there is no personally identifiable information. Despite our best efforts to limit the personal data that is associated with you, it is possible under some circumstances that an intelligent attacker with access to all of the data could infer who you are. For example, if you were to watch an unlisted youtube video on your own channel that had affiliate marketing content (a situation that would likely not happen because it defeats the purpose of affiliate marketing content, which is to get many views) then it could be possible to infer who you are. In this case, you could go and remove the entry from our records using the deletion functionality in the settings page.
Who Is Allowed To Use AdIntuition?
Because of restrictions about collecting information about minors, all AdIntuition users must be over 18. By downloading the extension, you agree that you are over the age of 18.
What Happens When I Clear My Browser Local Storage?
When you clear your local storage, your settings will be set to the default values. These values can be changed back in the AdIntuition settings menu. Your randomly generated user id will also be reset.
Do You Have A Consent Form For Users?
Yes
Who Makes Up The Research Team?
Michael Swart
Arunesh Mathur
Marshini Chetty (UChicago)