How targeted advertising works

Do you ever see ads online that seem to be specifically targeting you?

Senior woman using a computer and seeing targeted advertisements

Do you ever see ads online that seem to be specifically targeting you? Learn why this happens and whether or not you should be concerned.

It’s likely that you’ve noticed it before; you’re searching the internet for flights, or a new pair of glasses, and suddenly the internet is plastered with ads for these items. If you’ve ever wondered how and why this happens, and whether or not you can disable it, read on.

What is it?
These ads are usually displayed by Google Ads, an online advertising platform that is used by millions of Australian and international businesses.

The interests system is quite simple, for example if you were to search for some sunglasses online, Google would see that a user is searching for sunglasses. Because Google is partnered with plenty of sunglasses retailers, their system will now display some targeted ads for sunglasses that you might find appealing.

It’s a win-win for Google and their clients because users see ads that they are more likely to click on. It’s usually a win for internet users as well, because we see ads that we’re more likely to be interested in, rather than entirely irrelevant products.

However, sometimes Google gets your interests wrong and they continue showing you targeted advertisements that miss the mark. If you’d like, you can visit this page and modify your interests and, by extension, the ads that Google shows you. You can also block specific ads from appearing by clicking the ‘X’ icon that appears in the corner of advertisements.

How to deactivate
You can also choose to deactivate targeted advertisements entirely. But bear in mind doing this will mean that you are now shown ads at random and you won’t be able to block specific advertisers that you don’t like. So you might end up seeing more annoying ads than beforehand.

To deactivate Google’s personalised advertisements, visit this page and scroll down to the bottom where you can find the settings to opt-out.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    A. N. Onymous
    15th Mar 2017
    Last sentence of article: "To deactivate . . . visit this page . . ."

    What page? Presumably "this page" should be a link, but it's not.
    15th Mar 2017
    It links you to your google log in page.
    So these instructions apply to you if you have a gmail account and you are using a Google browser.
    You can search "incognito" or clear the history - top right hand corner (three vertical dots) click history and then clear everything.
    However none of this will stop the spooks (or any government department) tracking you.

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