Internet Advertising: Opt-Out Of Behavioral Targeting

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 15, 2009
Updated • Jun 5, 2017

There are many forms of Internet advertising that you encounter while you are browsing the Internet. One that has raised privacy concerns in the past is the so called behavioral targeting that is being used to track and analyze user behavior to display relevant ads to them. Many users feel that this is a invasion of their privacy and want to opt-out of this types of Internet advertising.

One way to do that would be to block cookies that Internet advertising networks set on user devices. It also works to clear cookies after every session but there is a better way. Many Internet advertising networks provide ways to opt-out of behavioral targeting by setting so called opt-out cookies on the user's computer system.

If an opt-out cookie is present they will not track and analyze the user by placing additional cookies on the computer system. You do have to trust them on that though, as there is no way of making sure they are keeping their promise.

The major problem here is that there are hundreds of online advertising companies that use behavioral targeting in some of their advertising campaigns.

A user following that manual approach would have to locate the website of the Internet advertising network, and there the page where the opt-out cookie can be set. This would take days and the chance would be high that a lot of networks are missed in the process.

Privacy Choice was mentioned in yesterday's post about Google's new behavioral ads. The website provides the means to opt-out of behavioral targeting of dozens of ad networks including major ones like Google AdSense, DoubleClick, Yahoo! and AOL.

advertising opt out

Update: The site does not seem to list an opt-out button anymore. We suggest you head over to Network Advertising instead and use it to opt out instead.

To do so, load the linked page above and click on the "manage my browser's opt outs" link near the top of the page. Follow the instructions, and wait for the initial scan to complete (if you have third-party cookies disabled, select "check from websites I have visited", and then "continue anyway").

You may now select to opt out for select advertising companies, or all of them. A click on "opt out of all" for instance does so right away. Simply wait for the process to complete. If you monitor cookies set in the browser, you will notice that about a hundred new ones were added to the browser's storage during the process.

The only thing that you need to be aware of is that the opt-out cookie is a normal web browser cookie that will get deleted if you clear all of your cookies. You would need to set the opt-out cookie again after clearing the cookies of the web browser.

Alternative services that you may use

The following services may be used as well to opt out of personalized ads:

  • Your Online Choices -- Checks the status of 118 different advertising companies, provides information on each, and opt out options.
  • Google Opt Out -- The linked Google Support Help page lists how you opt out of Google personalized advertisement.
  • Your Ad Choices -- Another opt out tool that lets you view and opt out of personalized advertising on the Internet.

All tools have in common that they don't work at all, or less effectively, when you disable third-party cookies in your browser.

Internet Advertising: Opt-Out Of Behavioral Targeting
Article Name
Internet Advertising: Opt-Out Of Behavioral Targeting
The article lists resources that Internet users may use to opt out of behavioral advertisement (personalized ads) on the Internet.
Ghacks Technology News

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Transcontinental said on March 16, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I’s be happy to learn, Dan, in which way privacy concerns are relevant of paranoia, should the other way round be true ;)

  2. Dan said on March 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    FYI, Google has an add-in for Firefox 1.5+ and Internet Explorer that will “set and forget” your choice to opt out of its advertising.

    I found it at

    It’s a pain in the neck to have to install another add on to tell Google not to do something, but a good solution. I’ve also seen add ons for the truly paranoid that send searches for random topics through to Google to disrupt your search patterns.

  3. Dante said on March 15, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I don’t trust ANY cookies from these marketing scammers. Not even the “opt out” ones. For all I know, it’s just a backdoor way to get people to allow their cookies. This is why I use Firefox. I just set the “cookies” “exceptions” options to deny cookies from any marketing sites I see. Much easier and safer.

  4. Paul(us). said on March 15, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    What a bummer that means that i have to reload/install again and again. Not very handy.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.