Stop iTunes advertisers tracking your activities

iTunes iconAdvertisers are always looking for better ways to sell you even more stuff than they did previously and one way in which they do this is to track your activities in an attempt to see what you are interested in. iTunes does this on the Apple Mac and the question is, do you want iTunes tracking your activities?

The advantages of advertiser tracking

There are pros and cons of advertiser tracking and advertisers would argue that because of this you are more likely see an advert for something that you are actually interested in, instead of a randomly selected advert that may not be of interest. If you buy or even just look at a product from company X then you might see adverts from company X. This is because it has been detected that you have expressed an interest and therefore you will see adverts from the same company or adverts for similar products from other companies.

Advertisers can therefore build a comprehensive picture of you and your interests and this enables them to target the adverts they show you more precisely and try to engage you more effectively.

Does this produce better quality, more relevant adverts that are less distracting and more useful? Sometimes it does, but not always and there are potential problems.

The downside of advertiser tracking

By tracking your activities, advertisers can build a picture of you and your interests, and this are obviously privacy issues here. Do you really want advertisers to know so much about you? Does this worry you at all? In some circumstances advertising tracking can work against you.

An example of this is when you visit a website and look at product X, but then after examining it carefully, you decide that you are not interested in it. There is no way to tell advertisers that. They assume that because you have looked at something, you are interested in it. You therefore see lots of adverts for product X and because you don’t want it, it is very irritating to be the target of an advertising campaign to make you buy it.

If you view a product and then proceed to buy it, an advertiser does not know this and the ad tracking facility records this as an interest in the product. This can result in lots of adverts for it being displayed, even though you already have it. The last person that wants to buy a new car, washing machine or a specific music album is someone that has just bought one.

Turn off advertising tracking

Some people may prefer to have tracking turned on, but others might want it off, so where’s the setting? Open iTunes on the Mac, go to the iTunes menu and select Preferences. Select the Store tab and down near the bottom of the list of options is Limit Ad tracking. Tick it or untick it as you prefer.

iTunes ad tracking
iTunes updates change Store Preferences, but the option remains. Tick the box!

I am not convinced that tracking everyone’s activities in detail is that useful. Advertisers frequently get my interests wrong and I see adverts for things I don;t want. I prefer not to be tracked and so see more random ads than I otherwise would, but it is your choice. Random ads also aid discovery and you might see something you had not thought about.



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