The Australian Ad Observatory Project

Targeted social media advertising may help better sell products and services but it also plays a significant role in reflecting and reinforcing social values and attitudes – often in ways that are harmful to women, Indigenous people, and young people.

This project is interested in how social media advertising targets all Australian social media users over 18 years of age.

Once you install the plugin you get access to the ‘My Archive’ platform. This platform collects all the sponsored ads that Facebook serves you and the tags used to target you. See further information below for accessing the archive.

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The plugin is available for Chrome, for both desktop and laptop devices. Unfortunately, Safari browsers and mobile devices (including iPads and mobile phones) are not supported at this time. To install the plugin, select the extension store for your browser.

Centre for Global Indigenous Logo

Working in collaboration with the Centre for Global Indigenous Futures at Macquarie University, this project is interested in knowing more about how advertisers target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are using social media. This is important because of the use of racist stereotyping and predatory practices by advertisers.

Thank you to our citizen scientist community

Since October 2021

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Your participation will help us find out how social media advertising is targeting you and if targeted advertising is discriminatory. 

The outcomes of the research, will benefit our understanding of platform-based advertising and enable independent research into the role that this algorithmically targeted advertising plays in society.

We take your Data Privacy very seriously.

  • We do not access any of your personal data.
  • We do not monitor or collect any non-advertising content

This project has been reviewed and approved by the QUT Human Research Ethics Committee approval number 2021004555


The way ads work online is very different from how they work on TV or in print newspapers. When you see an ad on TV, everyone else watching the same channel in the same region sees the same ad. On your personal digital devices, however, the ad may be targeted to you based on detailed information about your past behavior, your interests, and your preferences. It can also be targeted to you based on a psychological profile that suggests what type of advertising appeal might work best for you: a “fear based” appeal, for example, or a humor based one.

Advertisers might also use information they have collected about your personal details to target advertising to you: whether you or someone in your family has a disability, for example, or your take-home income, or ethnicity.

The use of “dark ads” has made it possible to discriminate in online advertising and to engage in forms of stereotyping and manipulation that are invisible to consumers. If you do not know who else is seeing the job ad that you are seeing, for example, you do not know if it is being shown only to men or only to people under 40. That makes it harder to know whether forms of illegal or unethical discrimination are taking place.

We are seeking participants to install an extension on their Web browser that collects all the ads they see when they go on Facebook. The extension only collects the ads (which are identified as “sponsored” content). It does not collect any personal information other than the demographic information supplied when installing the extension. We want to find out what kinds of ads are being seen by Australian users.


The Australian Search Experience project

The Australian Search Experience project is a crowdsourcing project investigating whether search results are customised based on the profiles that search engines define for us. Researchers need your help to gain valuable and otherwise unavailable insights into how search engines are shaping the information Australians are receiving online.

Become a citizen scientist and join the
Australian Search Experience


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