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The Real Deal: Online ad re-targeting

ALBANYMost of us do at least some of our shopping online these days.  Chances are, you've noticed that the ads on your favorite sites are getting bigger and more personal.  One single item search can make you the target of dozens of ads that'll follow you around the internet. 

The days of "free" sites are long gone.  Just about every website is willing to share your information with those looking to sell you something.  "Their revenue is based on their ability to match relevant ads to whatever your content is, so if they're going to spread the ad revenue, they're going to go deeper into your content," says Larry Zimbler of Liberteks.  Meaning, nothing you do online is really, truly private.  "If you look at something one place, once they identify where you are, you could walk down the street, use a completely different computer but once they know it's you using it, or your cell phone which is always you, you're going to see the targeted ads," Zimbler says.

Say you go to and search for a computer bag, you decide you don't want it and then close the page; you won't have to wait long to see an ad for that same computer bag show up in your newsfeed on Facebook or as a sponsored ad on another website you visit.  "They'll retarget those ads as long as the money is holding up, I've seen ads that have retargeted me for monthsYou would have to take a policy of clearing out your cookies and other temporary files as well as be aware of exactly which accounts are logged in when you do it and try to match up so things are a little cleaner," Zimbler says in response to whether there is a way to not have targeted ads follow you.  But even if you do all that, the ads won't stop, "Is it better to get the ad that you don't really care about but you know about or is it better to get the new ad that maybe you don't care about but you don't know about... either way you're still getting an ad," Zimbler says. 
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