Targeted ads may be a convenient way for marketers to advertise to consumers in a way that speaks to their specific interests, but they can be annoying – and they are putting people’s personal data at risk.
This is according to NordVPN experts, who say that web cookies, location information, and mined data collect information about users’ browsing activities from site to site. After having shopped online or checking several websites, users face a slew of targeted ads popping up.
The danger, says NordVPN, is that anyone can buy users’ data and use it for purposes other than targeted ads and advertising campaigns.
One of the main concerns is the fact that targeted ads reveal personal information, such as age, gender, income, relationship status, political views, and sexual orientation, the company explains.
“Companies can use such data to predict whether they can charge people more as well as forecast your behaviour and incentivise your actions. One example could be the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It targeted voters with ads based on their psychological traits in order to manipulate them better,” comments Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN.
Stopping targeted ads.
Markuson says targeted advertising can cause users to feel stalked by advertisers. “If you’re cautious about your privacy, this can feel unnerving.”
Fortunately, he says there are several things users can to to prevent these ads.
First of all, you can modify notifications.
“Some sites are better about presenting this setting separately from other types of notifications, or you may only be able to stop this by unsubscribing from all advertising e-mails from the company,” Markuson explains.
He also advises opting out of targeted ads. Certain social networking and search engine sites, as well as major software vendors and some ISPs, will enable users to opt out of targeted advertising.
Also, use an ad-blocker. These extensions work on the browser level to prevent advertisements, banners, and pop-ups. However, users can go further with an ad-block VPN too.
Another tip is to delete your information from data brokers. “If you really want to exclude yourself from shadowy databases, you can contact individual data brokers to clean up or delete your information.”
Finally, he advises using a VPN to hide identity. While this won’t hide all ads, users won’t receive any personalised ones. A VPN hides internet activity from prying eyes, including marketers and ISPs.