I am not a fan of advertisers tracking people and displaying targeted ads based on their interests. This has nothing to do with being tracked and the problem is that instead of displaying ads I might be interested in, I get ads I don’t want. I simply hate the targeted ads and prefer random ones.
A typical case occurred today. Yesterday I visited two websites looking to see which was best for a particular item I wanted. What it was isn’t important. I chose the one that suited me best. Now when I use Microsoft websites, such as Outlook email, I am seeing adverts for the item I did not want and I’m getting adverts on web pages for something I am not interested in.
This prompted me to change the Microsoft ad settings so that I get random ads. There is more chance of a random ad interesting me than one for a product I have decided I don’t want.
It can happen when you buy items too. For example, you need a new washing machine, so you go around the web looking at washing machines. You choose the best one and order it. For the next three months you’ll see endless adverts for washing machines because advertisers think you are interested in washing machines after tracking you visiting sites about them.
Actually, the last person on earth that is interested in buying a washing machine is someone that has just bought a washing machine. In about 10 years’ time they might be interested in one of those ads.
Targeted ads are just too dumb. Advertisers, if you really want to improve ads you need to realise that when I have just bought something I don’t want to see endless ads prompting me to buy it. How many washing machines do people need?
It wasn’t actually a washing machine I bought, but the principle applies to anything.
Microsoft ad choices
When you are on a Microsoft website, such as Outlook.com, and there are adverts. Look for the AdChoices button. Here it is in the bottom right corner of the browser below the last advert.
Click it and you are taken to a Microsoft website where you can change the advert settings. Click in the purple box where it says Choose.
There are two settings and the top one, Personalised ads in this browser, has On/Off options. It is up to you which one you choose, but I prefer the Off setting.
The option below is Personalised ads wherever I use my Microsoft account. You must sign in with your Microsoft ID (such as your Outlook.com email and password), then you can use the On/Off buttons. It is your choice, but I prefer it off.
Windows 8 ad settings
That isn’t quite the end of it for Windows 8 users. Start screen apps installed from the Microsoft App Store can display ads too. They can track you and display ads based on your interests (actually, what they think your interests are and they often guess wrong).
To stop these apps displaying annoying targeted ads, move the mouse to the bottom right corner of the screen to show the Charms bar, then click Settings. Click Change PC Settings and then select Privacy on the left.
Turn off the option that says Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps. Now you will get random ads, which I think are less irritating and sometimes actually interest me.