Stalked By Targeted Ads? Here Is How To Show Them The Door

Targeted advertising can be annoying
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Remember a time when you perused several websites searching for items you wanted to buy? It could have been household items, beauty products or electronics. Long after buying the products, you notice ads related to the items you searched for, or even have already bought, popping up every time you open an app or visit a website. Everywhere you turn, they are there. Welcome to the world of a stalker or targeted ads.

Targeted ads involve online advertising focusing on the specific interests, behaviors, and preferences of a buyer. This information is gathered by advertising companies via tracking your online activities.

So, how do they track you? Well, by now, you know about website cookies or you have seen sites asking you to accept their cookies. Cookies collect and store data such as your name, email address, age, location, IP address, and browser identification, and store it on your device or browser. The cookie creates a record of the user to help the website recognize the user whenever they visit the website.

At the most basic level, cookies are the most common method of tracking a user across various websites. While browser cookies are used to facilitate a user experience whenever they visit a website, third party tracking cookies collect and keep a log of all websites the user has visited, commonly known as browsing history.

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Ad tech companies and marketers usually engage in third-party tracking to help them accumulate data that will assist them in better understanding user behavior. These companies are often hired by brands and online stores to market their products. This explains why you are likely to see ads about products or services you searched or bought recently on Amazon, Google, or eBay whenever you open your social accounts.

According to advertisers, serving targeted ads is better compared to seeing random commercials that may not be related to what you would like.
Sarah Hofstetter, former chairperson of 360i, a digital advertising agency says “The content isn’t free, so what would you rather see? “Ads that are at least trying to be of interest to you, or ads that are spray and pray?”

But while advertisers take pride in their ability to serve users with targeted ads, they do not realize that the ads are not only annoying but also creepy and an intrusion of user privacy. Look, it is not like they first ask whether to serve you with ads or not. Instead, the ads just show up on newsfeeds or pop up as notifications. Irritating, right?

If targeted ads are becoming a nuisance, there are several measures you can take to minimize or stop them from getting on your nerves.

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Clear your cookies regularly
Ad tech companies use cookies to track your online activities. When you clear your cookies, you are essentially reducing your digital trail which is followed by advertisers to serve you with ads. If they can’t find your trail, they will have a hard time following. Got the drift?

Install adblocker or use private browsers
Apart from clearing cookies, you can also consider installing ad blockers such as uBlock Origin. Alternatively, use browsers such as DuckDuckGo that do not share your logs or track your online activities.

Use a private browser window or “incognito” mode
All browsers now offer the option to use a browser window designed to better protect your privacy; these are known as “private windows” or “incognito” mode, and they basically contain your browsing and cookie history in a sandbox which is cleared when you close the window, instead of persisting like they do with regular browser windows.

Target ads can be just as annoying as regular ads, and a whole lot creepier. If you are someone who is irked by targeted advertising, give one or more of the methods above a try.


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