Five things to know about online targeted ads
Ever wonder how online advertising seems to know you so well? The aim is to sell you products you might be interested in, but the downside is that it’s a little bit creepy. That’s because it’s watching you… through the medium of cookies.
Thankfully, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has stepped in to ensure you know when you’re being subjected to online targeted ads, aka Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA). This also means it will be easier to opt-out of these adverts. To explain a little more about the changes, here’s five things you need to know about OBA…
1) It works by tracking your web history
Let’s say you’re a massive film fan. The idea behind OBA is that you’ll pick up a cookie from one of the big ad networks while browsing online. This cookie won’t store data relating to your personal identity but it will record information about which web pages you’ve visited, products you’ve bought, and so on.
2) The aim is to create targeted advertising
With all this information about your cinematic interests, OBA might try and point you towards pre-ordering Skyfall on DVD or watching an Oscar-nominated movie while it’s still on at your local cinema. Depending on your perspective, these examples could prove to be handy purchasing reminders, or an intrusive case of online nagging.
3) New rules mean you can tell who’s using OBA
Now the ASA has stepped in, you’ll be able to tell when you’re being subjected to OBA. Just look out for the symbol below while browsing online…
4) This allows you to opt-out of such schemes
Being able to recognise this OBA symbol means you can also opt-out of being subjected to this type of advertising. There are two ways to do this…
- Opt-out of ad networks on an individual basis: A more measured but time-consuming approach to OBA. This allows you to avoid targeted advertising by requesting individual agencies don’t target you with OBA. This means you don’t lose the benefits of cookies; instead, you merely opt-out of the ones that track you. Scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of links that will help you do just this.
5) You still can’t get rid of all online advertising
If you have chosen to opt out of OBA, this doesn’t mean you’ll be immune from all online advertising - especially since most websites fund their content through advertising revenue. Of course, here at Which? we’re proudly independent and funded by our subscribers instead – thanks to you all!
If you’d like to block Flash-based adverts from appearing altogether, you can use browser plug-ins like Flashblock to prevent these ads from appearing on websites.
How to opt-out of advertising networks
Remember we mentioned you can opt-out of individual agencies which utilise OBA? Here’s a list of links detailing just how to do this (via the BBC)…
- Google DoubleClick
- Yahoo! Network Plus
- Atlas Solutions (Microsoft Advertising)
- AOL Advertising
- Specific Media
- Media Mind
- Mediaplex (ValueClick)
- 24/7 Real Media
- What if companies gave me control of my data? - consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson explores the benefits of ‘midata’
- The government’s net-snooping laws – a step too far? – a discussion on proposed laws allowing the police to monitor all of our online communications
- What if your Facebook profile could influence credit decisions? - social network profiles are to be used for credit checks in Germany
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