Tag: advertising

A mobile phone displaying a map with various adverts popping out of the locations.

Advertisers snooping? Stop the tracking cookies

Ever had the feeling that you are being watched. You visit Amazon and look at iPhone headphones, then jump over to YouTube and watch a video but the adverts are suddenly all for iPhone headphones. You go to check you Gmail, and more adverts for headphones. Then you pop by Facebook and more adverts for headphones. No matter where you go, those iPhone headphones just keep following you. Truly you are being watched. Many internet marketing companies are tracking every page you visit and purchase you make, using tracking cookies. They know a huge amount about you and they use that to sell you things.

Understandably, many people worry about these tracking cookies and their adverts. The EU made a law requiring websites to inform you of the cookies and seek your permission to use them. This resulted in a mass of pop-ups on telling that “this site uses cookies” which you probably just ignore – but should you? Should we just accept this snooping into our online lives and is there really anything you can do to stop them tracking you?

Well, in fact, you can opt out of these ad tracking cookie systems. You’ll still see ads and these firms will still make money, but you won’t be having the feeling that someone is watching you. It isn’t perfect. The opt-outs usually also use cookies to log that status so if you clear your cookies, use another machine, or re-install your system, then you will need to repeat the opt-out process again. Also, the companies don’t really want you to opt out, so they have gone out of their way to make you go out of your way if you want to actually opt out. There’s no single off switch and you have to run around a huge number of sites, clicking opt out on each of them.

Is it worth it? Well, I opted out about a year ago, and I like it. I still see ads, but they are different ads. The ads are often less relevant to me than they were before, but that is kind of the idea here.

Why not just use an ad blocker plugin? Well, they are far from perfect. For a start, many publishers simply block their content if they detect an add blocker. Furthermore, the ongoing tit for tat between the advertisers and the blocker means that the blocker might not always stop the tracking even if it blocks the display of the ad. Finally, this method, of opting out, is within the advertiser’s system and they are required by law in many countries to do this, so you can be moderately sure that they won’t circumvent it.

For google, go to //www.google.com/settings/u/0/ads/authenticated
Make sure to turn off all three settings for signed in “Ads based on your interests”, and on the next page, signed out “Ads based on your interests” and “Google Search Ads based on your interests”

Google also uses the Doubleclick cookie and opting out of that requires you to download Google’s plugin from //www.google.com/settings/u/0/ads/plugin

You might also want to review your Google search history and delete that too. Yes, they have everything searched for file and you can view it. //myactivity.google.com/myactivity and also
//myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols
//plus.google.com/settings/endorsements
//plus.google.com/settings
//myaccount.google.com/locationsharing

For Yahoo! group adverts there are several places you need to go:
https://aim.yahoo.com/aim/us/en/optout/index.htm?b=oo
https://dev.flurry.com/secure/optOut.do
http://optout.btrll.com/opt_out_cookie
https://search.yahoo.com/history

Network Advertising has an opt out page for many smaller ad companies. Facebook is one of the firms listed so you can opt out of Facebook’s tracker here. Their site doesn’t work too well. You have to click the “choose all companies” opt out button several times as it only opted me out of 5 or 6 out of 110 each time: http://www.networkadvertising.org/choices

Digital Advertising Aliance (DAA) also has the same tool and lets you opt out of many ad providers: http://youradchoices.com/

To opt out of Amazon tracking, you can use the DAA link above or go to https://www.amazon.com/adprefs

For Microsoft (Bing) you should head over to https://choice.microsoft.com/en-GB/opt-out
Also if you have Windows 10:
– Click or tap the Start button.
– Click or tap Settings.
– Click or tap Privacy and then turn off Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps.

Just like google, Bing also stores all your search history. Unlike Google, they don’t make you re-enter your password to view it. So if you boyfriend leaves his laptop open why on the toilet, you can just have a gander at how he search for “Brazilian fart porn” at 22:43 on Sept 12, 2016. https://www.bing.com/profile/history