Published on December 6, 2023

Ads Keep Following You on Every Device? Here’s Why

It’s a common experience for users to encounter the same advertisements across various devices. You grab your phone in the middle of the night and search for a phrase like “best eBook readers.” The next day, when you browse social media feeds on your laptop, you notice a shockingly high number of eBook reader ads.  

Whether you’re browsing on your smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer, the recurrence of identical ads is bound to happen. This phenomenon is not a mere coincidence. It results from sophisticated marketing practices.

Methods for Targeting Ads

Ad targeting makes up a substantial portion of marketing budgets. Companies worldwide spend about $521 billion annually on targeted ads. With targeted ads, marketers ensure online users see ads based on age, interests, gender, and location.  

Digital advertisers have sophisticated technologies to track shoppers online. The following are the top targeted advertising strategies:

Cross-Device Tracking

Advertisers deploy tracking mechanisms to monitor online users’ activities better. The technology typically relies on cookies and device fingerprints to target users. Your actions are recorded and saved when you visit a website on any device. All browsing data helps generate a user profile that’s made accessible to advertisers. The information stored within the file enables marketers to deliver consistent ads across devices.

The user profiles generated get shared across web browsers and social media platforms. The shared profile is why you could see a furniture store ad on a Facebook feed if you search for sofas on Google.

Personalized Advertising Algorithms

Artificial intelligence (AI) has completely transformed how marketers target consumers. Advanced algorithms analyze massive amounts of user data, including browsing history, search queries, and online interactions. The algorithms discern patterns and preferences, allowing advertisers to tailor their campaigns precisely.

When you see ads on multiple devices, the algorithms have studied your shopping behaviors, personal interests, and basic demographics. The goal of the advertiser is to target ads to increase conversions.

Re-Targeting Campaigns

Re-targeting is a strategy that allows marketers to follow you across devices with ads related to your previous browsing history. For instance, you may have scoped out a few different car models online. Later, you start to see those same models pop up as ads. Over 77 percent of advertisers reported using re-targeting on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Re-targeting relies on cookies to track users’ interactions with a website. When a shopper visits a site but doesn’t make a purchase, the network places a cookie in their browser. This cookie allows the advertiser to recognize the user on other websites and show them ads while browsing on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Tips to Stop Targeted Ads on Devices

If you get a creepy vibe from targeted ads across devices, you do have the following options to keep your browsing habits private:

Use a VPN with a Tracker Blocker

A VPN (virtual private network) with a tracker blocker acts as a protective shield as you browse the internet. The tracker blocker stops intrusive ads from appearing across all your devices. The tracker blocks advertisers from collecting data, including shopping habits and personal demographic information.

Are VPNs legal may be a common query before using one. VPNs are legal in most countries worldwide, including the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

Don’t Share Location

A common misconception is that social media and other sites eavesdrop on your conversations. For instance, you and your friend are attending a party and discussing a new restaurant in town. Although you’ve never searched for the restaurant online, you begin to see ads for the restaurant on social media the next day.

Tracking technologies have used your location to figure out you and your friend were at a party together and stored both your browsing information. Not sharing your location prevents this type of ad targeting.   

Browse in Incognito Mode

Web browsers offer an incognito mode to protect user privacy. Incognito modes don’t use as many tracking cookies as the traditional browsing tabs. Some consumers prefer to avoid shopping with incognito mode turned on because the browser will not save login information or store checkout details, such as billing addresses and credit card numbers.  

A Few Final Words

User privacy has become an essential issue in the digital landscape. If you feel uncomfortable with targeted ads following you across devices, use a VPN with a tracker blocker, avoid sharing your location, or browse in incognito mode. These tools can help protect your privacy and prevent ads from following you while using different devices.

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