Is YouTube detecting my Internet provider?

Holy crap.

I get bombarded by phone calls from Charter Cable, my Internet provider, trying to get me to add cable TV (sorry, I don’t own a television) and phone service (sorry, I pay $15/month to my mom to be on her Verizon “friends & family” thing) to my account.

Now, I’m getting hit with really bad Charter ads before every other video I watch on YouTube.

Am I being targeted, or am I just paranoid?

Dear Og, I have to see Conan O’Brien doing that stupid dance every time before the Skip Ad thing appears.

Use Firefox and Adblock Plus. I did not even know YouTube had ads until someone mentioned it in a thread here a couple of months ago.

Youtube is owned by google, and you can bet your sweet patootie that they track everything they can find about you and target their ads accordingly. Targeted ads are a major portion of google’s business.

Other browsers have ad blocking capabilities (Adblock Plus is also available for Chrome and IE for example) so you don’t necessarily need Firefox. There are other ad blocking tools available as well.

Yes, almost certainly it is, because it can see your IP address. The only way to prevent this, rather than just blocking the ads, is to use a proxy. Not sure why you’d be that paranoid about this, though. Many sites run targeted ads these days, it’s not something unusual

i will go to a site or two looking for mechanical or electronic parts. then on many sites there will be targeted ads for those venders for days and weeks.

Not “paranoid”. I’m familiar with targeted ads and the way they follow me around from site to site. These Charter commercials, though, just started showing up on every other video during the last month or so, despite the fact that I haven’t visited Charter’s site (or the site of any other Internet/cable/phone provider) in almost two years.

OTOH, I’ve learned to recognize the phone numbers used by Charter’s salespeople, and a few months ago I just stopped answering my phone when I see those numbers. So maybe they’re trying a different approach.

Well, you used “paranoid” in your OP, sorry if I misunderstood at all. I’ve not heard of an ISP targeting a specific customer with ads, or even all their customers, but it’s certainly possible. Are you in a position to use a proxy to see if you still get the same ads?

If you really want to know, here is an experiment you can try.
Delete all your cookies and see if all the Charter ads continue.
This will not definitively prove that they are or are not detecting your ISP, but if the ads suddenly disappear, it will seem likely that they were just basing the choice of ads on some combination of web site visits that correlates highly with interest in Charter Cable service.

So I did :smack:

If you use Firefox then use the Lightbeam add-on. It “shines a light on who’s watching you”, that is it will reveal all the other places that are listening in as you connect to the main site. It’s a real eye-opener.

Let’s not forget that, YouTube is a very widely distributed website. It needs to know your location and ISP to redirect you to stream the closest and fastest mirror. With an ISP as big as Charter, I bet the ISP actually owns the mirror servers (as it’s in both Google and the ISP’s interest for YouTube to be fast). And of course they are going to try and upsell you.

Especially on a video service, where you might get complacent and think you have all the video you need. They want to constantly remind you that you could be getting more.

You’re mostly right–Google themselves own the caching servers, and place them in service provider networks.

Neither ISPs nor Google want to clog up their internet connections with thousands of people watching “Gangham Style” or whatever is viral at the moment if they can just load it once locally.