We spend hours a day online, and we see ads on every webpage we visit. But we don’t have any way of tracking the ads we’re being served — we don’t even know how many ads the average person sees in a given day.

The ad industry currently has the power to gather whatever information they want about you and tailor their marketing strategies to whoever they’ve decided you are. This is not only invasive, it’s resulting in a browsing environment that constantly reinforces a demographic identity being ascribed to you by corporations — if they think you’re an upper middle-class woman in her 30s you might see only ads for fancy purses, diapers and wedding gowns, while your lower-income male counterpart might see ads for payday loans, big-screen TVs and fast food.

We want to take back control over our data and fight against surveillance advertising, but to do that we need tools to understand what the ad industry is up to.


Floodwatch is a Chrome extension that tracks the ads you see as you browse the internet. It offers tools to help you understand both the volume and the types of ads you’re being served during the course of normal browsing, with the goal of increasing awareness of how advertisers track your browsing behavior, build their version of your online identity, and target their ads to you as an individual. We want to assemble the largest amount of advertising data we can — and then not give it to the advertisers.

We want to empower everyday users with at least as much information as the advertisers have about them, and put choice back in your hands.

We take your privacy very seriously. You can read our full privacy policy here.


Floodwatch is currently in its Alpha release. We’re bringing more users on board, and the more users we have the more detailed picture we can start to develop about how the ad industry is using our information.

As we grow, our next steps include improving our ad detection algorithm, automatic ad classification, and developing further analytical and visualization tools to help you understand how your ad data compares to others’, and further work on reverse-engineering ad profiles to gain insight into advertisers’ methodologies. We are also beginning the process of establishing research partnerships with academic institutions. We need your help in making Floodwatch a tool that can make a real difference in empowering users to take back their browsing. You can download an alpha version from the Chrome webstore now.


Floodwatch was built using a variety of open-source tools, including three.js, jQuery, Python, ColorThief, serializeJSON, p5.js, d3.js and Flask. We will be releasing code for Floodwatch when we reach beta.

The Floodwatch team is grateful to the many people and projects which inspired our work. These include Moritz Stefaner & Lev Manovich's Selfie City, Nicholas Felton's Annual Reports, and too many great projects to count from the NYTimes R&D Group.