How to Stop Advertisers from Tracking Your Browsing Habits?
All corporations, big or small, employ some kind of advertising strategy in order to boost their sales. Without advertising, a company’s product or services will not be able to reach as many people as the company wants to, thus hampering the sales and revenue of the company. This makes advertising a major factor in the success of a business entity. The main element in developing an effective advertising strategy is, of course, the product or service itself. If the product or service being offered is not saleable or not of high quality, then it will really be difficult to market it to consumers.
The next most important element in developing an effective advertising strategy is to know the behavior and the characteristics of the target market or the group of people who are deemed to purchase a company’s product or services.
In order to do this, companies must employ different ways to have a profile of their target market.
- What is the age bracket of the people in the target market?
- What is their occupation?
- What are their hobbies?
- Which banks do they transact with?
- Who can influence their decisions?
- Are they married, or single?
All these questions and more have to be answered in order to get a complete profile of the target consumers. Then and only then can companies create a strategy that will entice these consumers into buying its products or services.
Research is the go-to method for companies in order to have a complete profile of their target market. Before the reign of the internet, research was painstakingly done and could take so much time before being completed. But the internet has radically changed the game, just as it changed a lot of things in our world. Advertisers no longer rely on manual research which may take weeks and even months to do. Today, advertisers can pretty much get all the information they need about a certain group of consumers in just a few mouse clicks.
The Role of Data Brokers in Advertising
Let us take for example Company XYZ, a consumer product industry player, who just developed a product targeted to male consumers within 35 to 55 years age bracket. Let’s say that the product can solve the hair problem of this group. In order to attract this certain group of consumers, Company XYZ must first know what their interests are, what attracts them, what hobbies they enjoy, who influences their purchase decisions, what their income bracket is, and where they usually go online. Company XYZ only needs to employ the services of data brokers in order to get a profile of their target consumer group.
Once Company XYZ knows the purchase behavior of their target market, and where this group normally hang out online, they can develop a strategy to reach out and encourage them to buy the product. Mike, for instance, who is 42 years old and has once or twice searched online about natural remedies for his thinning hair, would begin to see the hair product of Company XYZ on the sidebars of the news website he reads every day.
Data brokers can collect information about anyone who uses the internet, analyze these data, and market it to other companies such as advertisers. The consumer data they sell is normally harmless stuff, but over the years, it has evolved and now, it may include sensitive data such as your financial information. Even without the inclusion of your sensitive and supposedly private information, isn’t it creepy knowing that some company out there actually has your profile? It then leads to the question, how in the world do they gather your information? The short answer is that they track your internet activities.
What is Browser Tracking?
Websites have trackers embedded in them that get stored on your computers. These trackers can be cookies, pixel tags, flash cookies, etc. They can serve different purposes to different websites, but among the few of the reasons why websites have trackers is to tally the number of their visitors, and see which regions these visitors are from. There is nothing harmful in this per se. However, a website can contain more than one tracker – some even have over fifty trackers – and most of these trackers belong to other companies such as data brokers.
Once you allow cookies into your computer, companies can then track your browser activities, enabling them to have your IP address, the size of your screen, browser history, operating system, installed plug-ins, and other information about your device. That is a lot of information, which constitutes what they call your browser fingerprint. Thus, there is someone virtually peeking over your shoulder while you are browsing through Facebook, watching movies online, reading the news, looking for Christmas and birthday gifts.
How to Stop Browser Tracking?
Before you get creeped out knowing that there could be someone out there with all your sensitive information, and who can actually influence your purchase behavior, know that there are ways to limit ad tracking, and even altogether stop it.
Do Not Allow Third Party Cookies
In order to stop companies such as Google, Facebook, and other data brokers from tracking you, make sure that you do not allow their trackers to get stored on your computer. Block third-party cookies by going to your browser’s Settings or Options page.
In Google Chrome, go to the Advanced settings, and under the Privacy options click on the Content settings. Toggle on the “Block third-party cookies” setting. Also, make sure to delete all the cookies already stored on your computer by going to the “Clear browsing data” option in the Privacy and security section. Make sure to select “All Time” in the “Time range” field, and mark the “Cookies and other site data” option.
Turn off Browser Tracking
If you are one of the one billion people who use Google Chrome as their primary browser, you can stop Google tracking by going to the browser’s Settings, then expand to the Advanced option. Under Privacy and security, toggle on the ‘Send a “Do Not Track” request with your browsing traffic’.
Other browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer have similar options in their Settings. It is important to know that there is always a way to opt out of browser tracking.
Use a VPN
Anonymity, security, and privacy are the main answers to the question, “Why use a VPN?”. When using a VPN, all the data you send from your computer, as well as all the data you receive are heavily encrypted. This means that websites, companies, and even your Internet Service Provider will have no idea what you were doing online. This can stop advertisers from tracking your online activities, and thus hinder them from getting your browser fingerprint.
Since there is encryption involved in the process, make sure that you are using the fastest VPN service and is connected to the nearest and best VPN server, to avoid latency issues.. Either way, using a VPN can protect you from any company who wants to get your personal information. It will stop advertisers from tracking your browsing habits.
The evolution of advertising techniques is mainly due to the influence of the internet on consumer behavior. Advertisers currently employ sneaky ways to gather important information about their target market. Data that are sensitive and should be private are also being gathered, analyzed, and eventually sold to other companies.
This calls for a responsible use of your browsers. Make sure that you do not allow just any cookies and other trackers from getting into your computer.
The safest and most effective way to stop advertisers from tracking your browsing habits, however, is by using a VPN service. This way, your activities are encrypted and protected from trackers, making sure that your personal businesses remain your own.