The Blanket Approach: Opt Out with WebChoices
There’s a consortium called the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), whose goal is to help control ads around the web, especially on the note of how it affects you as a user and person.
The DAA has specific regulations, those companies that allow users to opt out have to elect to participate. The DAA makes it easy for people to know about this by proposing a tool called WebChoices that scans your computer or phone to see if targeted ads affect you.
To do this:
- Go to YourAdChoices WebChoices portal, after the scan is done, a detailed popup will appear.
- Click on “Continue” to see the actual list. Note, the actual list is long.
- Scroll through the list and you’ll see names like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others.
- Check the Opt Out box on the right side in order to opt out of these ads, or just Click the “Select all” link at the top to toggle all the options.
- When that’s done, Click the “Submit Your Choices” button at the bottom. To get more information, you can click the Understand Your Choices button so you can be clear on what it all means.
One thing is worthy of note here and that is that the above process does not opt you out of ads. Ads will still popup on your screen just that they won’t be personalized.
Also, whatever you opt out of using on WebChoices only applies to the browser you are currently using. If you own a desktop, laptop and tablet, you’re going to have to perform these operations on them all. AdChoices is also offered in the form of an app called AdChoices for both Android and iOS.
Opting Out on a Per-Network Basis
To opt out of personalized ads using the AdChoices tool is just one step. You can also opt out of these types of ads or at least control them on a per-network basis in many cases. Here are a few:
How to Control Facebook Ads
To control Facebook ads;
- Open Facebook, head to Settings, then choose Ads.
On mobile, that’s under Menu > Settings > Account Settings > Ads.
Here, you will see a lot of information related to your ad content including; the things you’re interested in and their relationship to ads, what advertisers can see about you, advertisers whose ads you’ve interacted with, ad settings, and a test feature used for hiding particular ad topics for a certain amount of time.
When you click or tap any category, you will be given more details about that category, from there you can customize your ad experience. You can use the “Your Interests” section to remove content you don’t want to see ads related to, as an instance.
The “Your Information” section allows you toggle info that advertisers can see about you like marital status, employer, and the like. You can also remove particular topics under the “Your Categories” section.
Under the Ad Settings option, you have the control over what ads show up for you, including ads that are tracked from other places online. The first option under this menu, “Ads based on your use of websites and apps,” is what bothers most people, because it allows Facebook to see what you shop and search for.
- Disable this to stop seeing ads for products you’ve recently searched for. There are more options in this menu, too.
Finally, there’s the Hide Ad Topics option. It allows you to hide ads for alcohol or parenting for six months, a year, or permanently. This probably is for users fighting an addiction in the case of alcohol, though the parenting section isn’t as clear. Perhaps it is for parents who have lost a child and don’t want to see parenting content to deepen their injury further.
How to Control Google Ads
Google is the world’s biggest ad company, and all of your personalized options come back to your Google account. Here’s how to control it.
- First, to see your Google ad settings, head over to your Ads Settings page. This is the hub for all your Google ad settings, which offers a quick way to opt out of personalized ads by toggling that option off at the top.
Google also recently introduced a way to opt out of Reminder Ads, though that seems to be still be rolling out on an account basis, so not everyone has it yet.
How to Control Twitter Ads
Twitter’s ad settings are a lot more straightforward than some of the other networks, though they’re a bit harder to find. They’re tucked away in the Personalization menu, which you can only get to on the web.
- To find it, click on your profile picture, choose Settings and Privacy, then Privacy and Safety.
- Next, find the Personalization and Data option, and click Edit beside “Allow All.”
All the options here are simple on or off switches—just read each one, then opt out as you see fit.
How to Control Ads on Instagram
Among all the networks listed here, Instagram is the only one without ad settings. Here, you have to interact with ads on a per-ad basis.
- As you scroll through your Instagram feed, you’ll see sponsored content with the “Sponsored” label. Much of this content may even be from pages you already follow. But if you’re not into that particular ad, tap the three dots in the upper corner to display its ad settings.
- From there, you hide or block the ad.
- Once you hide it, you’ll get a quick three-question box in its place that lets you tell Instagram why you hid the ad.