Edinburgh Web Development

These ads keep following me!

3rd party cookies

by Iain Wilson

30 January 2012

Recently we've had more than a few colleagues and clients comment on the same adverts popping up on the various sites they visit.  It's as if these ads are 'following them around'.

The visited sites didn't have anything in common, but still the same adverts kept coming up.  In most cases, the individual had clicked on the ad once before while browsing.

Are there sinister adverts following your every move?  Well yes and no.  What is probably happening is that when you clicked on that advert (probably a Google Adword or similar), the advertiser (Google et al) stored some cookies in your browser.  A cookie is just a little bit of data information that can be retrieved in future.  It is (or at least should be) non-harmful.

Then when you go to make a search or to another webpage that has Google adverts, the software checks your cookies to see your browsing history and adverts you've previously shown interest in.  It then serves up adverts that it thinks would be of interest to you.

Now, you might think that is a little Big Brotherish.  Google and the rest of them will argue that they are making your browsing experience more personal.  To quote the Google privacy page:-

"We use cookies, web beacons or other technologies to record information about what ads your browser is shown, as well as what ads you click and other actions you take on our sites and services. Cookies allow us to serve more relevant and useful ads to you."

But, if you want to stop it happening - just go to the options in your browser and get rid of the cookies periodically or use something like CCleaner to get rid of all cookies when you shutdown/startup.

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