Targeted ads give us an interesting mix of self-awareness, flattery and paranoia. On one hand, by following you on the web and pitching you with products that you might actually buy, when these ads work, you feel a reassuring self-affirmation of your online persona with what sort of demographic the internet decides to lump you in. Sometimes like a long-lost best friend you feel - "ah, these ads know me so well."
On the flipside, however, you get this stalky/creepy feeling that someone or something is always watching you. Your browsing and search habits get collected, cataloged, analyzed and you become a statistic - an alphanumeric code to be processed by an algorithm. The "personal" in personalized ads is actually quite an impersonal process - your details are just data bits and pieces that get crunched to make marketing more efficient.
Fortunately, if all this stalking and creeping and tracking and snooping gets a little bit too much for you, there are quite a few tips, tools and tricks you can employ to minimize its extent.
First order of business, for a clean slate, clear all your browsing data, history, cache and cookies from your web browsers then disable or limit tracking on your gadget or even services like Facebook. Click here for detailed instructions on how to do this.
Next, make sure you delete all third-party advertising cookies too. Click here for more tips on how to clear out these types of cookies.
Now, test your browser with an online security and privacy checker like Panopticlick. Developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this site collects information about the browser you're using and will tell you your risk level. For more privacy protection, consider using free anonymizing software like Tor.