Online Behavioral (Interest-based) Advertising.

Why advertisers and Web Analytics companies place Tracking Cookies on your computer?

PrivacyA Tracking Cookie is a small text file, which communicates with the owner once it’s saved on your computer without you even knowing about it. They are not usually intended to track your identity, but rather your online behavior! The advertisers collect the data and use it for a simple, yet sophisticated idea; match the ads that you see on the Internet to your interests! It’s called Online Behavioral Advertising, or Interest-based Advertising.

Let me give you an example: You search for a classical guitar and visit a website. The Tracking Cookie is already placed on your hard drive. Then you visit a newspaper and see the classical guitar ad from the company you just visited. It takes your attention and makes you feel like the company you just visited is legitimate and makes you want to visit them again.

I’ll leave it to your imagination to think what else they may be doing with the data that has been collected all over the Internet!

Please keep in mind though that NOT ALL COOKIES ARE DESIGNED FOR TRACKING PURPOSES. In fact, most of them are for your benefit – for example they log your registration information on websites that you have visited to save you re-entering the information.

If you feel like it is an invasion of your privacy and would like to clean out some space on your hard drive, then here are some methods to get rid of the Tracking Cookies:

1. First of all, make sure you set your Web browser options to block cookies!

  • Internet Explorer: Select Tools Menu, Privacy Settings and move the slider until it reaches the top, block all cookies.
  • Safari: Select the Preferences Menu, Privacy tab and Block Cookies from third parties and advertisers.
  • Firefox: Select the Preferences Menu, Privacy tab, put a checkmark to “Tell websites I do not want to be tracked” and I recommend you take a look at the Security tab also.

Depending on your operating system and the version of the browser, the settings I mentioned above may vary, but you get the idea, just browse around the settings and you’ll find it.

2. Delete the cookies that have been saved on your hard drive.
It’s very easy to delete them, but it varies depending on your browser and Operating System, so here is a good guide by WikiHow:
http://www.wikihow.com/Clear-Your-Browser%27s-Cookies

3. Opt-out of Online Behavioral Advertising:
http://www.networkadvertising.org/managing/opt_out.asp

Happy browsing,

Murat Buyuran

Online Behavioral (Interest-based) Advertising.