What Yahoo Knows About You, Ad Interest Manager

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 2, 2010
Updated • Apr 1, 2014
Internet, Yahoo

Companies have a lot of options to track desktop users on the Internet. This includes the use of cookies, Flash cookies and network related activities. All tracking options can be used by third parties to track an Internet user's activity on the Internet so that interests and dislikes can be recorded.

Most tracking companies sell those information to advertisers who in return display relevant advertisement to the individual user.

Yahoo's Ad Internet Manager reveals the information that Yahoo has accumulated based on activity on Yahoo sites like Flickr, Delicious or Yahoo Search.

The data consists of factual data, e.g. a user's IP address, and "educated guesses" based on the usage of Yahoo services.

The information on the Ad Interest Manager page are divided into three groups: Interest Categories, Activities, and Computer and Cookies.

ad interest manager
ad interest manager

Interest Categories are set based on the pages that have been visited in the past, ads that have been clicked on and viewed, and searches that have been conducted.

Activities highlight the use of Yahoo network sites by the user. It displays an activity level for each service used.

Computer and Cookies finally displays the user's IP address and location, operating system, browser, screen resolution, color depth, age range and gender.

The information may differ depending on the web browser used to access the Ad Internet Manager website.

The page offers an opt out option to block interest based ads from being displayed. It the choice is made a cookie is saved to the computer that blocks interest based ads. This still means that ads are shown, but that those ads are not "fine tuned" by using tracking information.

It is interesting to note that some information are guesswork, the age and gender of a user for instance. In our tests, Yahoo thought we were a 26-35 female from Mont-de-Marsan, Aquitaine, or a 56-65 female from New York, depending on the browser used to access the page. It is puzzling that the IP lookup returned locations in two different countries, with both of them being incorrect.

The Ad Interest Manager does not support Google Chrome yet, both the OS and browser information where set to unknown or blank.

Yahoo is not the only company that makes use of interest based ads. Google for instance offers a similar service that they call Ads Preferences, which can, when coupled with the information of the Google Dashboard, reveal lots of information about a particular user.

Opt Out Pages:

Yahoo Opt-Out
Google Opt-Out
Microsoft Advertising Opt-Out
Amazon Opt-Out
Privacy Choice Opt-Out (multiple ad networks)

You may also be interested in the guide "What is a tracking cookie" that not only explains what a tracking cookie is, but also how to disable them in popular web browsers.

How do you handle interest based ads and tracking cookies? Let us know in the comments.


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  1. "based on information sent to us by your computer and cookies" said on December 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Before Login
    Age Range: 56 – 65
    Gender: Female

    After Login
    Age Range: 19 – 25
    Gender: Male

    I wonder what information my computer and cookies are sending yahoo before login!?

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