Paper 2021/1032

AdVeil: A Private Targeted Advertising Ecosystem

Sacha Servan-Schreiber, Kyle Hogan, and Srinivas Devadas


This paper presents AdVeil, a private targeted advertising ecosystem with strong security guarantees for end users. AdVeil is built around an untrusted advertising network which targets relevant ads to users and processes metrics without learning any of the users’ personal information in the process. Our targeting protocol combines private information retrieval with locality-sensitive hashing for nearest neighbor search. User data is kept locally on the client, giving users full control over and transparency into the contents of their targeting profiles. AdVeil supports private billing metrics, allowing the ad network to correctly charge advertisers and pay websites for publishing ads. This is done without the ad network learning which user interacted with which ads. AdVeil achieves this using an anonymizing proxy (e.g., Tor) along with unlinkable anonymous tokens to identify and prevent fraud. We build a prototype implementation of AdVeil to demonstrate its potential for real-world deployment. Our evaluation shows that AdVeil scales to ad networks with millions of targeting categories. Targeting from a set of 1 million possible categories takes roughly 1.6 seconds with a single 16-core server and is highly parallelizable. Targeting is performed out-of-band (e.g., on a daily basis) while ad delivery happens in real time as users browse the web. Verifying reports (for fraud prevention) requires less than 300 microseconds per report.

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Preprint. MINOR revision.
Contact author(s)
3s @ mit edu
klhogan @ mit edu
devadas @ mit edu
2022-03-08: last of 2 revisions
2021-08-16: received
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      author = {Sacha Servan-Schreiber and Kyle Hogan and Srinivas Devadas},
      title = {AdVeil: A Private Targeted Advertising Ecosystem},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2021/1032},
      year = {2021},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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