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Ever watch a commercial and think “I would NEVER buy that product” or “what kind of people watch this show? Why would I want to use/buy xyz?

To focus online ads, many advertising companies track your activity as you browse from website to website (where their ads are displayed) and will build a profile of you to present more useful ads according to your interests and assumed demographics. These companies don’t collect personal information like your name and address; thus, you may find this information gathering helpful as you find yourself being offered more customized advertisements.

Or, you may see it as a violation of your privacy.

Simply disabling cookies will not alter the fact that your public IP address is available to these companies and, if you’re the only person/family using that address, you’ll still be profiled. If you’d like to opt out of these types of ads, you can do so very easily.

Note: What we’re going to do is create a cookie on your browser that requests most of the reputable companies respect your privacy. Opting out of customized ads is done on a browser-by-browser basis. If you clear your cookies, you’ll need to do this again. If you would like to permanently opt out, install the Chrome extension linked below.

Thanks to the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising, this will take just a couple of minutes for each browser you use.

The Self-Regulatory Program is based on the seven Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising released in July 2009. These Principles correspond with tenets proposed by the Federal Trade Commission in February 2009, and also address public education and industry accountability issues raised by the Commission.The Principles are designed to address consumer concerns about the use of personal information and interest based advertising while preserving the innovative and robust advertising that supports the vast array of free online content and the ability to deliver relevant advertising to consumers. [Source]

Note: Before you opt out, you might want to check out categories you’ve been profiled into. Here’s Google’s page, which shows the categories you’re in for Google advertising: Google Ads Preferences. Surprised by what information Google has gathered?

Opt out of Interest-based Advertisements Online (One Time)

To opt out of personalized ads:

  1. Go to aboutads.info
  2. Scroll down and click Choose all companies:
You’ll now be opted out for each company:

Note: if you see the following error message, I recommend you click the Companies Customizing Ads for Your Browser Tab, check Select All Shown, and click Submit your choices.

Opt out of Interest-based Advertisements Online (Permanently)

If you use Google Chrome and want to opt out permanently, install the Keep My Opt-Outs Chrome extension.
Keep My Opt-Outs is an extension for users who aren’t comfortable with personalization of the ads they see on the web. It’s a one-step, persistent opt-out of personalized advertising and related data tracking performed by companies adopting the industry privacy standards for online advertising.
When you install the extension, it will warn you 100+ sites will see your data… as they already do (through tracking their ad impressions), this transmitted data will simply be your opt out request.
In summary, less companies will now keep data on your browsing preferences; however, only the companies that take part in the program will do this–companies that choose not to participate will continue to profile you.
What are your thoughts? Should you opt out of interest-based ads so you can spend more time focusing on your foil hat? Are you hurting online advertising (for both sides of the fence) by robbing them of harmless but helpful information? Let us know in the comments.




About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix them.

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