The internet is a creepy place, if you haven’t noticed… The majority of people are oblivious to what really goes on behind the scenes. Companies buy and sell information about you more than you could imagine, and they spend a lot of money on it. One of the most common pieces of information about you is your browser history. Advertising companies set cookies in your browser when you visit certain websites, and then they use that information to target additional advertising toward you after you’ve left those sites. Let’s run through an example scenario.
You open up your browser to your homepage of Google and do a search for laptops. Google keeps track of this for their future advertising usage. You click on a link to Best Buy. Now you have another cookie indicating you went to that website to look at laptops. Then say you click on an ad while looking at laptops for a Wii. Now another advertising network knows you are interested in buying a Wii or other video gaming system. So with just a few pageviews, several ad networks know you want a laptop, video game system, wii, and that you were thinking about buying one at Best Buy.
Now, the next hour, the next day, the next week, the next month, you will see ads now targeting those exact things, Best Buy, Wii, laptops. Some people consider this a convenience and prefer that ad networks know these things about you. I however, along with many others, consider this an invasion of my privacy. I will do my own research, and I don’t need some cheap ad on the internet to tell me what to read and what to buy. That’s why I’ve opted out of advertising cookies. It is a legal requirement of advertising networks actually, which shows you how sleazy what they are doing really is. If you want to opt out of every advertising network out there, there is a fantastic non-profit resource available to you. Check out the Network Advertising Initiative to get rid of all those ad networks on your computer so they can leave you alone!