Why do ads follow me on the internet?

Ever feel like ads are following you around the internet? Most online shoppers will have experienced looking at a product online and then finding a banner ad for it or a similar product on another site only a few hours later.

While some find this practice invasive, it is common among online advertisers and means that ads you view are more relevant to your interests and recent searches.


The way advertisers track information about the sites you’ve visited is through placing ‘cookies’ on users’ browsers when they visit a site. A cookie is a simple text file containing basic information on when you visited the site, allowing advertisers to track a user’s browsing habits. As a result, they can target you with ads to remind you of the site or product that was previously viewed.


If you use Google and want to prevent advertising from linking to your interests, you can change your settings at www.google.com/ads/preferences/. Scroll down to Interests, click Edit, and select the Opt-out setting at the bottom: ‘Opt out of interest-based Google ads across the web’. However, this does not mean that Google no longer tracks your web activity, and you will still see ads – but they will be less relevant.


If you want to adjust your cookie preferences or delete cookies from your web browsing history you can do this through your browser settings menu. However, it is worth noting that cookies serve a range of purposes including remembering your search preferences and language settings. You can find out more about how Google uses cookies here.