Think back to the last time you went window shopping online. Whether you were hunting for a new pair of shoes, a laptop, or a piece of artwork, if you didn't buy it, you're probably now seeing ads for that product on every website.
It's creepy, isn't it? The number of companies that use algorithms to track your behavior and send you targeted ads is disturbing when you think about it.
Luckily, now there's a way for you to opt-out of interest based, or "behavioral," ads. Or, at least most of them.
The Digital Advertising Alliance has created a consumer choice page that lets web users see which of its participating partners is currently using customized ads on their computer. When you first visit the website a scan will begin. When the scan is complete, you'll be shown a list of these partners. (See screenshots.)
From there, you can learn more about the practices these companies use for interest-based ads, and opt-out using "opt-out cookies" that are stored in your browser with your preferences.
It's important to note that doing this won't remove all of the ads that you see online. It's also important to point out that online ads aren't necessarily a bad thing. Yes, these ads can sometimes seem annoying, but they're also the reason most online content is free. Without them, media outlets and content creators would have to find a different source of revenue.
Just imagine what that would be like - if you had to pay for every YouTube video you watched, or article you wanted to read. Or, what if every website suddenly charged you a subscription fee?
The main concern over behavioral ads is that these companies are tracking your online activity. Google has also released a tool called "My Activity" that lets you see everything it tracks. Click here to see how it works, and which settings to use for more privacy.