APC’s readers are talking about online ad tracking
“I visit a lot of news websites and, since I’m a bit stingy, I don’t have any paid memberships for their services, meaning I get served up all sorts of ads.”
Privacy and personal online security is a hot topic of conversation these days, so I thought I’d follow some of your advice; namely to do with changing passwords, making them unique to all my online accounts and removing cookies, just in case my device gets stolen.
However, I might have gone a bit overboard, as I got rid of, well... all of them. I visit a lot of news websites and, since I’m a bit stingy, I don’t have any paid memberships for their services, meaning I get served up all sorts of ads. Due to the fact that I often shop for things online (soccer boots, the odd bit of tech, clothing and that N7 hoodie my son stole from me), the ads I saw were more often than not catered to my interests. I used to see deals for new tech, notices of sales on the websites I frequent or weird nerdy merchandise. But now that I’ve rid my browser of all its cookies, I’m landed with things like women’s fashion, tents, chick flicks and holidays I could never afford!
I want my old ads back! I suppose it’s just a matter of time before Chrome re-learns my ways and I see all the ‘nice’ ads again, but until then, I’m just going to have to put up with it... No, thanks, SEEK, I’m not looking for a new job right now, go away. Oh, and I’m not looking to open a random business account with anyone, thanks, CommBank. Sorry. Jim Bligh
Ed replies: Yep, I’ve experienced the same thing since adjusting Google’s ad personalisation settings for my main account — you can find these options by using your web browser to navigate to myaccount.google.com, then ‘Personal info & privacy > Ad Settings’.
While I’ve turned ‘personalisation’ off completely, Google is actually pretty flexible in the settings it provides when it comes to tailoring what ads you want to see. You can specify topics you’re interested in (which Google will automatically populate based on things like your web searches) and even blacklist those you’re not, as you can see in the screenshot above.
Adjusting these to better suit your interests is perhaps a more ethical approach to just using an ad blocker: it means you’ll still be supporting the free websites you visit that rely on advertising to pay the bills, but you’ll also cut down on the amount of irrelevant ads and info that would otherwise be thrown your way.