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Tackling Behavioral Targeting

A few decades back, advertisements were limited to televisions, newspapers, and radios. Billboards were used for commercial purposes before, but their use grew exponentially in the nineties. The latest medium for advertising is the internet. The number of people using the internet has grown at a rapid pace and today, online shopping has become commonplace. To take advantage of the huge number of potential customers on the web, companies have started using different online advertisements techniques. One such technique is called behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting has been present for some time now, but its use has increased recently.

Understanding the need of advertising

Many of you might wonder the need of advertisements on the internet. The World Wide Web is a source of a lot of information and services, and most of them are available for free. To make sure that this information remains free, advertisements become crucial.

So, advertisers pay money for getting their ads on the websites. To improve their returns on investment, advertisers study user demographics. For instance, you wouldn’t want to waste your money on marketing a bike to a quadriplegic. The only way to deal with this issue is to make the ads target the required audience. Also, website owners realized that they would get a lot more money if they could help the companies in targeting the right people.

What is behavioral targeting?

The need for marketing to a specific user group gave birth to behavioral targeting, which aims at tracking the online activities of the customers. With this, companies get to know what you search for, the sites you visit and the different services you use. Normal advertisements on the internet are something which you have to live with, but behavioral targeting raises privacy issues which you should be aware of. In fact, behavioral targeting is used to determine what ads will be shown to you and most of the time, you will find the same ads follow you on different sites. This practice is known as retargeting

To prevent companies from tracking you online, the simplest method is to take help of Network Advertising Initiative (NAI). NAI is a group of analytics and online marketing companies that focus on increasing consumer awareness.  NAI has worked to battle the security issues using self-regulation in the industry.

The first thing you need to do is to use the Opt-Out tool offered by NAI. When you go to the web page of this tool, you will be shown a list of companies that have placed a cookie on your system. You can remove the cookies for the companies you do not want to target you.

Using proxy servers

You can always use an anonymous proxy server to hide your identity on the web. Proxies  can help you to shop without being tracked. A proxy server is essentially another computer which allows you to bypass your ISP and use the internet through the proxy. This hides your IP address and safeguards you from malware, cookies, and pop-up ads. There are numerous free proxies available on the net but not all of them are reliable. It is best to use a paid proxy service, which actually encrypts the data between your computer, the proxy server and the web site.

There are various other tools available as well, which allow you to opt out of targeting campaigns of different companies. Some of them have to be used as add-ons, while others can be used as bookmarks. There are certain tools that actually let you modify your ad profile for certain companies, so you get better ads. We live in a world that is getting increasingly dependent on the web. If you want to avoid companies spying on your every move on the net, it is better that you take some decisive steps.

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