To opt out of interest-based advertising that you see in your web or mobile browser, you can submit a request to the company or companies indicating your desire to opt out. This is generally as easy as clicking a single button. The opt out may use a "cookie," a small text file, which is often necessary in order for your opt-out preference to be recognized by the company. You can learn more about opting out and use the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) industry-developed WebChoices tool--which allows you to easily opt out of over 130 companies' IBA--by visiting www.aboutads.info/choices.
Please note that this process usually only applies to a specific browser. If you delete your cookies, use a different browser, or switch to a different computer, you will likely need to complete your opt out again. Finally, this process is specific to web browsers. If you want to learn about opting out of interest-based advertising in mobile apps, please see our mobile app opt-out article.
Sometimes, when a person attempts to opt out of a company's IBA, something goes wrong. Keep reading to learn about some common problems that consumers may run into during this process.
One, if you are using a browser such as Safari which is set by default to block third-party cookies, then the opt-out cookie may not be placed in your browser. This could cause the opt-out process to fail. The DAA WebChoices tool attempts to correct for this setting, but it cannot guarantee success. To fix this problem on your end, either switch from Safari to a different browser and try again, or modify your browser’s cookie settings to allow third-party cookies.
Two, a problem can also occur if you delete your browser’s cookies, because you will thereby also delete any opt-out cookies. This may cancel any opt-out choices you previously made. To solve this problem, you can download a browser “plug-in” that will “harden” the opt-out cookie so it is not automatically deleted. The plug-ins can be downloaded from a number of places, including:
- Google Advertising Cookie Opt-out Plugin: Available at http://www.google.com/ads/preferences/plugin/, with versions for Internet Explorer, FireFox and Chrome browsers;
- The DAA's "Protect My Choices" Plugin: Available at http://www.aboutads.info/PMC for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
What Opting Out Does/Does Not Do
The opt-out process does not opt you out of receiving all ads, only interest-based ads. Interest-based ads, also known as behaviorally targeted ads, are ads delivered to a particular browser or device based on prior web browsing activity across the internet. You will continue to get ads after you opt out; they will just not have any special relevance to your interests. Finally, note that the opt-out process does not have any effect on email listservs, spam, or unwanted telephone calls.
What to Try Next
If you have already tried opting out at WebChoices and received an error for a small number of companies, it is possible that the affected companies are experiencing a temporary technical issue. The WebChoices Page automatically logs these errors, and the DAA works with the affected companies to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Please note that all websites and advertisers experience site-wide outages from time to time. This may be a result of a number of factors, including website maintenance and system failures, among others. If you find that an opt-out is not available for a specific company, please try again at a later date.
Need More Help?
If you are still having trouble with opting out, or if you still have questions, please contact us using our consumer report form. If you provide supplemental information, we will review your information and determine whether further action is appropriate.