Online behavioural advertising

online behavioural advertising

Put simply, behavioural advertising is a practice that is based on internet browsing activity and allows brands to deliver adverts to web users which reflect their interests. It’s safe, transparent, and designed to empower you, the consumer.

The European advertising industry has developed a set of good practice principles that businesses should follow. This good practice is based upon businesses being transparent about the information that is collected and used for this purpose and seeks to provide you with control. At the heart of this is a new ‘icon’ or symbol that is now appearing in the advertisements you may see on websites.

What is behavioural advertising?

Online behavioural advertising (also known as interest-based advertising) is a way of serving advertisements on the websites you visit and making them more relevant to you and your interests. Shared interests are grouped together based upon previous web browsing activity and web users are then served advertising which matches their shared interests. In this way, advertising can be made as relevant and useful as possible. Relevant ads can also be delivered based upon the website content you have just been viewing. This is known as ‘retargeting’.

Who are the companies that are involved in behavioural advertising?

The following types of companies are involved:

  • Advertiser – a company that sells a product or service and runs advertising campaigns to promote that product or service.
  • Advertising Server – a company with technology that delivers advertising to a relevant page on a website.
  • Advertising Exchange – a company that acts as an open market place for the buying and selling of advertising.
  • Advertising Agency – a company that works with advertisers to create campaigns to promote that advertiser’s product or service.
  • Data Aggregator – a company that pulls together information from multiple sources and builds ‘segments’ based on interests (eg car buyers).
  • Demand Side Platform – a company that allows advertisers to connect with web publishers.
  • Sell Side Platform – a company that works with web publishers to help maximise the money received from selling advertising on the publisher’s site.
  • Web Publisher – a company that promotes its products and services via its website and, in this context, sells advertising on the site to help pay for them. An advertiser will have its own website and therefore will also be referred to as a web publisher.

Below you can see how all these companies work to deliver advertising.

How is my privacy protected?

The information collected and used for this type of advertising is not personal, in that it does not identify you – the user – in the real world. No personal information, such as your name, address or email address, is used. Data about your browsing activity is collected and analysed anonymously. If this analysis infers a particular interest, a cookie – a small file used by most websites to store useful bits of information to make your use of the internet better – is placed in your computer and this cookie (not your browsing data) determines what advertising you receive. You can control which cookies you accept or refuse.

The company collecting and using the data will also have a way for you to decline behavioural advertising and the EU wide good practice principles are specifically designed to give you more information and control over this type of advertising. We have brought all the relevant businesses together in this site so you have only one place to exercise control. Click here to opt out of behavioural advertising. Remember: turning off behavioural advertising does NOT mean that there will no more advertising on the internet. However, the advertising that you do see is likely to be less relevant to your interests.

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