Sick Of Being Followed by Ads? A simple guide to stop retargeting
If you spend any time browsing e-commerce sites online, you’ve probably noticed that ads for certain sites are following you.
I first noticed it when I had been looking for suits on the online re-seller Therealreal.com. I had looked at several Dolce and Gabbana suits before deciding they were too expensive.
Next thing I knew I was seeing ads for the exact same suits everywhere!
I saw featured ads on Facebook, ads in the sidebars of my favorite Hollywood gossip sites, and almost everywhere else I went online. But that wasn’t the end.
Soon afterwards I was looking for hotels while planning a vacation only to find myself followed by ads from Hotels.com asking me if I needed a hotel for my upcoming trip.
After a few weeks I was being followed on nearly every website I visited by everyone from Hotels.com to a surgery center I had looked for information on for my ailing mother.
What happened? I was being retargeted.
What is Retargeting?
Retargeting is a very popular and recent form of advertising where ads are tailored to consumers based on their previous Internet actions.
What happens is websites like Hotels.com and Therealreal, will pay to have their ads shown to Internet users who looked at but did not purchase their products and services.
These websites retarget you, by using a pixel or cookie which then shows their banner ads to users who have had some level engagement from visiting the site to putting items into the site’s shopping cart but not actually purchasing them.
This is good business for the websites as it allows them to contact users who have expressed more interest in their products or services based on their internet actions, but it’s annoying and invasive for us as internet users.
How Do You Stop Retargeting?
The first way to stop retargeting is to consistently clear your web browser’s cache of stored cookies.
Google has published a guide to clearing your cookies: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/32050?hl=en
Clearing your cache becomes more tricky if you are using google chrome, since you have to use the chrome menu and clear your whole browsing data, but there’s a guide to doing that: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95647?hl=en
The problem with simply clearing your browser’s cache of cookies is that you will need to do that nearly everytime you visit a website which uses retargeting.
And since no website comes right out and tells you that they are using retargeting cookies or pixels, you’ll basically have to clear your cache and cookies after every site you visit.
Another option to stopping retargeting is to turn off cookies in your web browser.
The problem with turning off cookies altogether is that it means you will have to manually enter all passwords, and user IDs for any website you need to log in to from your email account to your online banking and everything in between.
This can be annoying especially if you tend to forget passwords and usernames.
What’s The Best Way To Stop Retargeting?
The best way to stop retargeting is through the use of a virtual private network or VPN.
VPNs use encryption to increase privacy and security by masking the signal of your online activities. VPNs also manipulate your IP address making it appear that your Internet activity is coming from a different computer, location or even country. This makes you essentially anonymous while online.
Using a VPN means that the websites using retargeting are not able to place cookies into your system because they cannot be sure where the internet activity is coming from.
This makes it virtually impossible for marketers to retarget their ads to you, because they don’t know where to send the ads.
While harmless, and seemingly benign retargeted ads can become seriously annoying and can make you feel as if your every move online is being watched by people trying to sell you stuff.
There are 3 solutions to getting rid of these annoying and unwanted ads:
1) Clear your cache of cookies EVERY time you visit a website that you think might use retargeting (basically any website that sells something).
3) Use a VPN, which allows you to surf sites using retargeting cookies and pixels without being targeted.
If you follow these 3 simple tips, you will be able to go back to browsing the Internet without the nagging feeling that advertisers are following your every move trying to separate you from your hard earned dollars!
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