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Behind some of the world’s biggest brands, there are agencies driving their online ads. You’ve probably never heard of most of them, yet they’re constantly collecting data about your habits to guide their advertising campaigns. In turn, they also track your behavior to customize the ads you see.
While all of this tracking is anonymous, there are elements of the technology that make some people uncomfortable. Specifically, many networks use unique user numbers in cookies as well as your IP address to track you as an individual across partner sites. These cookies can see how you interact with different websites, and can even link your different devices together. That gives the advertisers a lot of data about your browsing habits and preferences, and they use this data for commercial gain.
If you don’t want these companies to track you, you have the option to opt out and protect your privacy. Each provider must provide an opt-out procedure, and that’s what we’re going to cover in this guide.
98 Ways to Opt Out
Dozens of networks have already signed up to the Network Advertising Initiative, or NAI. The NAI website should be your first stop on your journey to online privacy. From here, you can see the programs that are participating and figure out which ones you’ve opted out of already. It does this by scanning the cookies on your device.
If you want to opt out of these tracking programs, you’ll need to pick through the list to figure out the procedure for each one. We’ve made this easier by collecting the specific opt-out procedures in one convenient list:
- 33Across: 33Across supports more than half a million companies in tracking more than a billion customers on social sites. Opt-out of all 33Across campaigns via the Opt-Out Status page on its website.
- Accuen: Using programmatic advertising controls, Accuen lets advertisers vary the way their ads are displayed in real time. There’s a full explanation of its opt-out policy on this page.
- Adblade: NBC, Fox, and USAToday are just three of Adblade’s news clients. Its technology delivers targeted ads to visitors on news and media sites. You can opt-out of AdBlade’s interest-based advertising. Use its Opt-Out tool to customize your preferences.
- Adobe Marketing Cloud: Marketers can deliver adverts to Adobe’s various products by using its Marketing Cloud solution. Use its opt-out page to set your preferences for interest-based ads. You can also opt out of having your data collected on the same page.
- AOL Advertising: AOL delivers interest-based ads via its various websites, apps, and portals. To set your preferences, head to AOL’s privacy pages and scroll down to the last section. There are different controls for cookies, logged in users, and mobile device preferences.
- AppNexus: AppNexus lets advertisers bid for ad space in real time, and it collects anonymous data to drive its platform. If you prefer not to be tracked, visit its Opt-Out page.
- Arbor: This provider tracks users across all of their devices so that advertisers can deliver content relevant to their habits. To opt out, visit Pippio.com.
- Atlas Solutions: Atlas helps companies to understand how consumers are responding to their ads. Facebook owns the company. Opt-out instructions are not presented as clearly as we’d like, but you’ll find out more by following the instructions on its website.
- AudienceScience: As the name suggests, AudienceScience specialises in measuring consumer preferences. It has separate opt-out tools for the USA, Europe, and mobile devices.
- BlueKai: By claiming to be the largest online data exchange, BlueKai claims its position as a true Big Data provider. Decline to participate by visiting the privacy controls for its parent company, Oracle. You will find ad preferences in the Marketing Cloud section.
- Brightroll: Specializing in video advertising, Brightroll covers mobile, desktop, and TV content. Opt out of its data collection activities by visiting the Yahoo! Ad Interest Manager.
- ChoiceStream: ChoiceStream works with targeted ad technology to deliver personalized content. Opt out of its user tracking at Overview of ChoiceStream Services.
- Circulate: Web and app developers use Circulate to integrate ads into their products. It collects data about users to guide ad delivery. You can bypass its cookies by following its opt-out process.
- Collective: Working with both display ads and video, Collective provides audience data to guide campaigns. This global company gathers massive amounts of information about user habits. Opt out of its data collection activities by following the instructions in the Choice and Opt-Out section of its privacy page.
- DataXu: DataXu is a programmatic advertising platform that measures the effectiveness of the ads it serves. Set your opt-out preferences via its Data Collection Platform privacy controls page.
- Datonics: Datonics is based in NYC and holds massive amounts of data describing user behavior. Its opt-out controls are handled by NAI, but you can read its full policy wording here.
- Defy Media: Defy Media is responsible for various outlets and YouTube channels, and also runs its own ad network. Stop Defy Media from tracking you by following the instructions on its Online Tracking and Advertising Opt-Out page.
- Drawbridge: Using its cross channel tracking technology, Drawbridge collects data from both mobile and desktop devices. It has the ability to track the same person on different devices using sophisticated tracking cookies. Stop this from happening by opting out on its Data Choices page.
- eXelate: This provider harvests anonymous data to allow advertisers to “monitor each pixel.” Prevent your data from being collected via the ‘How We Use Collected Information’ chapter on this page.
- Eyeota: Eyeota is another interest-based advertising provider. Click the Opt Out button at the bottom of this page to stop it tracking your behavior.
- eyeReturn: This Canadian company offers an advertising platform to target ads effectively. Opt-out at this page.
- Eyeview: Focusing on video content, Eyeview creates personalized brand messaging for its clients. To prevent Eyeview from collecting anonymous data about you, visit this page, and scroll to Your Choices.
- Gamut: With a variety of different ad solutions, Gamut hopes to deliver relevant content across different platforms and in different regions. It has a dedicated Consumer Opt-Out Policy page.
- Google: Arguably the big daddy of online ads, Google makes millions from its Display Network, ad exchange, and related products. It also owns DoubleClick, one of the largest and most well-known advertising platforms in the world. Thankfully, its opt-out procedure is one of the best we’ve seen. Read all about it here.
- GumGum: Using in-image, video, display, and mobile ads, GumGum aims to deliver the most relevant content at the perfect moment in the customer journey. Stop its tracking cookies from monitoring your browsing on its Ad Choices page.
- IgnitionOne: IgnitionOne, and its subsidiary, Netmining, is a cross channel advertising specialist. Read about its opt-out procedure for both companies here.
- Innovid: Innovid is an established provider of advertising solutions, and it specializes in serving ads via interactive video. It has a simple opt-out procedure.
- Kargo Global: This platform is designed to control the display of ads on mobile. Opt out instantly using the button on this page.
- KBM Group: KBM Group is another ad platform that uses Big Data to drive its solutions. The opt-out process is not clearly presented, but you can prevent KBM Group from using your data by visiting the KBM Group Interactive Opt-Out page.
- Krux Digital: Krux Digital uses harvested data to support its clients advertising objectives, and it has a clear opt-out policy on its website at Opt-Out.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn has its own ad tracking technology that monitors behavior to target its ads. Its opt-out information and process can be found on its Advertising Preferences page.
- LiveRail: This massive advertising platform is owned by Facebook, and serves more than 25 percent of the world’s online video ads. Find out how you can opt out of tracking here: About Ads/.
- Lotame Solutions: Crowd Control by Lotame Solutions matches ads to relevant publishers. It only uses the data it collects for 9 months. If you’re still not happy to participate, opt out using its dedicated Opt-Out and Preference Manager.
- Magnetic: This retargeting platform uses your search history to customize the ads that you see. If you don’t want your data to be used in this way, you can opt out.
- Media Innovation Group: Also referred to as MIG, this company offers ad delivery and optimization. Locate the User Choice section on this page, and you’ll find a small opt-out button.
- MediaMath: MediaMath lets brands automate the delivery of online ads, using your data to increase relevance. Opt out using the web-based method on this page.
- MediaForge: MediaForge says that it uses retargeting to make ads more interactive. You can stop it from tracking you by using the information in its policy document.
- Microsoft Advertising: Microsoft uses your behavior and preferences to customize the ads you see across its many websites. You can prevent this by opting out of its program. Visit its Opt-Out page for more information. Note that this page also describes how to turn off interest-based advertising in Microsoft’s various Windows applications.
- Mode Media: This platform is designed to help people share, curate and enjoy content. It claims to reach more than 250 million users each month. Prevent it from tracking you by using this opt-out procedure.
- NetSeer: This company uses concepts to link user preferences with ad content and topics. It has a very clear opt-out switch, right on its homepage. Visit their site and scroll down to the footer. The switch is on the right-hand side.
- OwnerIQ: This provider uses a method called ownership targeting, which is designed to serve ads based on the things you buy, or are shopping for. It claims to deliver ads across 90 percent of the web. Remove its tracking cookies on the Opt Out of Targeting page on its website.
- Parrable: Parrable helps its clients to track individuals on different devices, although it doesn’t collect identifiable data about them. It has a dedicated opt-out page here.
- PointRoll: The main aim of PointRoll is to engage consumers more effectively through ads. The company has been acquired by Sizmek, so you can opt out using the Sizmek privacy controls.
- PubMatic: PubMatic has designed its solution to support publishers by automatically increasing the value of ads, based on demand. It has a dedicated opt-out page.
- Quantcast: This well-known provider harnesses vast amounts of data and converts it into audience profiles. Stop Quantcast from using your data in this way: see the How to Opt Out section on this page.
- RadiumOne: A programmatic advertising provider that pools data from web and mobile users. Stop it from including you in its dataset via its Opt Out instructions, here.
- RhythmOne: RhythmOne provides mobile and desktop advertising solutions. Opt-out by following this link, and clicking Opt-out of RhythmOne. A 5-year cookie will be immediately saved on your computer.
- Rocket Fuel: This provider works with US brands to deliver interest-based ads through Google ADX and similar exchanges. Opt out by visiting its privacy page and scrolling to the section titled “Opting Out of Personalized Advertisements.” This control also opts out of ads via the advertising company [x+1], which Rocket Fuel recently acquired.
- ShareThis: This service lets web users quickly share links to content, and in doing so, they contribute valuable behavioral data. Stop ShareThis from tracking you in this way by clicking the Opt Out button here.
- Simpli.fi Holdings: Simpli.fi uses unstructured data in massive quantities, with the hope of helping advertisers bid more effectively for ad space. Opt out of any involvement with a click using the link on this page.
- Tapad: Tapad tracks consumers across all of their devices to personalize the ads they see. Find the Web Browser Opt-Out section here to set a cookie that will prevent Tapad from tracking you. There’s a separate section explaining how to opt out on iOS and Android.
- The Rubicon Project: The Rubicon Project optimizes pricing across websites, but you can opt out of its tracking technology using the information here.
- The Trade Desk: This provider has its roots in real time ad bidding, a technique that has become one of the primary ad automation systems on the web. It tracks customer journeys, but if you don’t want to be tracked, you can opt-out on this page.
- Turn: This company works with real time data to inform its advertisers and steer ad campaigns. Choose whether you want to be tracked by reading about its opt-out mechanism here.
- Varick Media Management: Another programmatic advertising provider. Stop it from tracking you by visiting opt-out information for comprehensive instructions.
- Viant: Viant has various solutions including its Advertising Cloud, and solutions provided through Specific Media and Vindico. Choose to opt out from its tracking technology on this page.
- Videology: This platform uses age and gender data to target ads, although it says viewers are not personally identifiable. If you don’t want Videology to track you, you can opt out on this page. If you’re using an ad blocker, you may be asked to switch it off to allow the cookie to be set on your device.
- Yahoo!: We’ve already mentioned Yahoo! and its web advertising preferences in discussing Brightroll. Control your opt-out status by visiting the Yahoo! Ad Interest Manager.
- Yieldmo: This provider is committed to personalizing the ads you see on mobile. Opt out of its data harvesting technologies on this easy-to-use page.
- YuMe: YuMe has developed a range of advertising solutions, focusing on video ads and analytics. Click the Opt-Out button on this page.
Points to Note
In order to turn off all personalized ads, you will need to step through each opt-out, which can take some time. Additionally, opting out of ad tracking doesn’t mean you will stop seeing ads on the web. But you will be served a generic selection of ads, rather than ads customized to your browsing habits and preferences, and you won’t be contributing data to these vast silos.
Opting out also won’t prevent your computer from giving away details about you. Unless you turn off cookies, there will always be an element of risk. Since most people prefer cookies to be turned on so they can log into websites and set preferences, you’ll simply need to be vigilant and take a proactive approach to keeping your privacy intact.
Remember: if you clear your cookies, or switch devices, you’ll need to run through our opt-out list again. You can use the NAI’s tracker to figure out which opt-out cookies need to be recreated.
NAI is focused on the United States. There are organizations that focus on other areas of the globe:
- Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada: dozens of participating companies.
- Your Online Choices EU: lots of information about online advertising and a browser extension for Chrome, IE, and Firefox.
Also of great value is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which provides lots of information in addition to Panopticlick — a tool for checking your computer for tracking and fingerprinting. It also provides access to Privacy Badger.
Some providers say that opting out of ad networks will harm the brands you love. It’s certainly true that ads help to pay for the content we all consume, but you have a right not to be tracked as you browse if you don’t want that to happen.