These days, online marketing is becoming extremely advanced and there’s no question why – there is big money in advertising. As such, businesses want to reach as much of their target audience as possible without wasting money communicating their message to people who have no need of their product. To do this, Internet marketers (and search engines) engage in a practice called targeted online marketing.
Even if you haven’t heard this term before, you already know what targeted online marketing is. We’ve all seen ads on our favorite websites that try to discern what it is that we want the most. For example, if you are a rock climbing enthusiast, you may scour the web to stay up to date with the latest rock climbing trends. In turn, you will see ads pop up on other sites that try to sell you rock climbing ropes, harnesses, and equipment. Likewise, a wine aficionado who browses the web might be inundated with ads for wine glasses or decanters.
However, these ads are sometimes misdirected and they can be a real pain. If you visit a website centered on a topic you are disinterested in or find inappropriate, it is likely that you will see ads for that same topic on other websites. This is especially common on computers that are shared (for example, a family computer), and could expose your children to topics that you don’t want them to see. In addition, they can be annoying and many people don’t want their browsing habits tracked. Fortunately, the good news is that you stop targeted online advertising with the right knowledge of Internet cookies.
What are Cookies and How do They Work?
Your average Internet surfer has likely heard of cookies before, but most people just don’t understand what they do and how they work. Essentially, a cookie is a collection of data that is stored on your computer that records a variety of data such as usernames, passwords, and even browsing history.
Protecting Yourself from the Cookie Monster
Selectively Disabling Google Ads
To opt out of all targeted advertising while still keeping cookies enabled, you just need to browse to Google’s website. Look for the section at the bottom that says ‘Opt-out settings’ and opt out as you wish. This option is stored in your browser as a cookie. So, if you use multiple browsers on the same computer you will need to make the same change in each browser.
However, there is also a Google plugin (advertising opt-out plugin) that will allow you to do the same thing. Although, it is only available on Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. In addition to the Google plugin, there is also a third-party plugin for Firefox and Chrome named TACO (Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-out).
Though these options will certainly help you stop targeted online advertising in its tracks, there are better options. Some other tools and extensions will give you greater control and flexibility with your cookies, but they take a little more know-how to operate. Extensions such as Disconnect, NoScript, and Ghostery will provide great benefits when combined with a cookie manager such as Cookie Monster. In the end, if you don’t have the technical know-how and you don’t want any tracking information stored, you may want to disable cookies completely.