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© David May |
Security & privacy

Advertisers are following you home with targeted junk mail

If you find those targeted ads that are following you around online creepy, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. One way to do this is by changing settings on sites that are known for tracking.

Need help figuring out how to do this? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Tap or click here for 6 ways to stop advertisers from following you online.

You might be able to cut down on the number of ads stalking you while you’re browsing the internet, but now something we never expected is happening. Those irritating ads are following you home!

It took a while but snail mail has caught up

We’ve all been there. You take a peek at social media to find out what your friends are up to this weekend and you’re bombarded with ads that just so happen to be pushing stuff you’ve been thinking about buying.

For example, if you’re thinking about getting a new pair of running shoes, you probably visit a few websites that sell athletic gear to see what’s out there. Then, the next time you glance at Facebook, bam! There’s an ad for the exact pair of kicks you looked at earlier.

RELATED: Your smartphone is listening – here’s how to make it stop

It’s the genius way advertisers are getting people to buy their stuff. They pay companies like Facebook and Google for detailed information about your online activity so they can later provide you with targeted ads either on websites or in your email.

Some people don’t mind targeted ads, thinking it’s better to see products they’re interested in than stuff that’s irrelevant to them. But most just find targeted ads creepy.

While these targeted online ads might be effective for a while, we all get used to seeing them and end up just tuning them out. This is why some clever advertisers have found a new way to get their ads to you.

RELATED: How to control what advertisers know about you on Facebook

They are taking a blast-from-the-past-type of approach by sending targeted ads to your mailbox at home. Really, snail mail? Yes, snail mail!

It makes sense if you think about it. Sending ads to your email account could be a waste of time if you have your settings updated to ship junk mail right into the spam folder.

By sending ads to your home, you will at least see it. Whether it’s a flyer, postcard or inside an envelope, companies are hoping you’ll at least glance at it. That’s better for the advertiser than an email that goes unseen.

How are advertisers doing this?

Your home mailbox being stuffed with targeted ads is a result of marketers combining consumer data found online with the physical world. Every time you buy something online and have it shipped to your home, it opens your physical address up to marketing.

Even if you buy stuff in a brick and mortar retail location, your address is open for business. That’s because your home address is tied to your credit or debit card and the store can now start mailing ads to your home.

The only way around this is by using cash when making purchases in person. And don’t tell the cashier your phone number when they ask. That will let them know who you are and where you live. Before you know it, you’ll start getting mail from that retailer, too.

The good news is a flyer in your home mailbox can’t infect your device with malware. At least we got that going for us.

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