Behavioural Targeting – How To Turn It Off If You Find It Creepy

In the past few years one of the biggest areas of growth in digital marketing has been in behavioural targeting.

Advertisers can create an audience based on their previous behaviour, interests and interaction with a website.

They can then create an advertising campaign to retarget that group of individuals who have shown certain behavioural or interest-based traits and serve relevant advertising to them.

This type of advertising typically works out significantly more cost effective and delivers higher ROI, when done right.

When I speak to non-industry friends they actually find it quite creepy. Which tells me the advertisers have got it wrong.

I’m going to save the How To Setup Behavioural Advertising Campaigns for another post, on another day.

Today is a Saturday, it’s the weekend, it’s all about the consumer.

Today we are going to be looking at

  • where you can find out about online behavioural advertising
  • what your rights as a consumer are
  • how you can remove yourself from being targeted either by individual behavioural advertising targeting companies, or across the board

If you are involved in the advertising industry it might be good for you to turn behavioural targeting off, so you can see what the “raw” landscape looks like, without the cookies that are used to influence your advertising experience.

In the UK we have YourOnlineChoices UK that oversees a lot of the rules and regulations surrounding the online behavioural targeting landscape.

They created a great video which explains what online behavioural targeting is and how it works

So, now you know what online behavioural advertising is and how it works, how can you find out more about your own situation?

Online Behavioural Targeting – Your Choices

behavioural targeting - your choices

The image above links to the page on the YourOnlineChoices UK website where they answer all the questions you might have, how to register a complaint if you feel you are being served inappropriate ads and they even produced a helpful guide.

If you want to turn behavioural advertising off completely for everyone, then the image below shows you how that will work.

I would emphasise, it doesn’t stop you seeing ads, it just stops you being retargeted for ads based on your behaviour.

Turning Behavioural Targeting On/Off In Bulk Or By Company

behavioural targeting - ad choices

If you are an advertiser looking to carry out some behavioural targeted advertising, then these are your go-to companies who operate in that eco-system.

As you will see, there are a lot of them, I truncated my screenshot to make the page load quicker.

The info button has a huge amount of information available on each company.

As an example, here is the information about AOL (UK)

behavioural targeting options AOL

It tells us that they are in the process of integrating their advertising brands and platforms, which brands they use.

If you are an advertiser and want good exposure across a range of their portfolio of sites then AOL directly might be a good first point of contact rather than going to each individual trading entity.

It tells you how they collect and use the information.

In other words, it is their compliance piece.

You might learn something from them (or others) on how to structure your privacy policy to avoid you receiving any complaints.

As sexy as online behavioural advertising campaigns can be, as I mentioned above, most of the time people find them creepy, so complaints might be more prevalent, the creepier your campaign is.

I’ve focused the content of this article exclusively on the UK.

In the US there is the Network Advertising Initiative. You can find out about the 97 online behavioural advertising companies that do broadly similar things to their UK equivalents. You can also opt-out at that page.

They have a very good educational resources page as well.

They also describe online behavioural targeting as interest-based advertising, you might also hear it called retargeting, remarketing, BT, but it all amounts to the same thing.

What do you think of behavioural targeting?

Creepy or genius?

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