If you spend enough time browsing the internet, you may have noticed that some ads are following you wherever you go. Now if you don’t like the fact of being monitored and tracked, here’s how you can avoid retargeting.
Lewis Lambert Fox
Jul 04, 2017 · 4 min read
So it goes like this. You visit a website looking for a new pair of shoes (book, car, hotel room, etc.) and click on some models you like. Then you decide to keep looking and leave the site. Next thing you know you start seeing banners for those exact shoes everywhere online. They show up on a blog you like, they pop up again on Facebook or a popular news site.
Or, let’s say, you need to buy a present for your 2-year-old nephew. What you do is quickly go through some toy shops, buy something cute, close the site and that’s it. But no, from now on those ads of baby goods won’t leave you alone.
Based on these two common examples, we can easily see there are two sides of retargeting. Many brands, including NordVPN, use this marketing tool to help their customers discover new products and find deals they may like. Nevertheless, when implemented poorly, it can offer stuff you are not interested in and become extremely annoying. Not to mention that creepy feeling of being watched without exactly knowing why, when and by whom.
“More than just being creepy, it’s a huge violation of privacy,” said Cooper Quintin, a privacy advocate for the EFF. “People need to be able to read things and do things and talk about things without having to worry that they’re being watched or recorded somewhere.”
It’s estimated that each internet user sees 1,700 banners a month on average. So it’s not surprising that companies do everything they can to stand out from the crowd and get your attention. Apparently, retargeting is the most effective form of doing that as you are more likely to spot the ad offering things you actually need or like. So how do they know?
Retargeting is a type of online advertising that typically relies on cookies – tiny bits of code, dropped into your browser when you visit a website for the first time. While these cookies don’t actually know who you are, they give companies the ability to track your browsing habits, know what you look at and then follow you to another site to show you some ads.
So when a visitor shows interest in a product, the company then can purchase ads through retargeting companies to display that particular product on other websites.
Nevertheless, for all the talk of relevancy and better customer experience, retargeting is something many users would like to avoid. And it’s completely understandable: who likes to be followed around, especially by ads?
Fight annoying ads with a VPN!
Unfortunately, you can’t disappear from advertisers’ radar completely as there are many other ways they can reach you. However, there are certain measures that will help you control what you see online. The following techniques are helpful steps to make it harder for web browsers (and advertisers) to track you:
Options are different for different browsers, but generally you can get there by finding the History or Privacy tabs. However, note that this will remove all the history, including saved passwords and frequently visited sites. So before cleaning your browser history, make sure to bookmark pages you want to save and visit later.
You can also set your browser not to accept third-party cookies but then you may have trouble accessing websites that require you to sign in. So the best option here would be setting your browser to delete cookies every time you end your browsing session. Here’s how to manage cookies’ settings on your browser: Chrome, Firefox, Safari.
Opening a private or incognito window in your browser will ensure that your searches, visited pages and cookies won’t be saved after you close all of your private windows. However, even though private browsing is good for hiding your tracks, this information can still be collected by your ISP, employer and third parties that can track your IP address.
Adblock Plus is another useful tool to keep you safe from third-party tracking, which also lets you block pop ups, banner ads and malware-hosting domains.
To reduce your information footprint, look for a browser that collects as little data as possible and allows no third-party tracking. Brave and Tor Browser are well trusted for keeping their users away from these online snoopers. Related: Device Fingerprinting: The Tracking We Can’t Avoid?