How The Google Ruined Christmas: How to Opt Out of Advertisement Tracking Cookies

Christmas is just around the corner, and with it comes a whole bunch of emotion and joy when you surprise your loved one with that one gift they’ve been waiting for all year. But what happens when your loved one figures out what you’re going to give them? What happens when you figure out the perfect gift but Google ruins the surprise for you?

Well, Google can sometimes be a scrooge, but he doesn’t have to ruin Christmas surprises for you. Earlier in the week, I thought I had the perfect surprise for the wife. But she’s a little quick when it comes to computers and as she was using my office computer,  Google began to display advertisements for Zales. Every website she would visit she would get three different Zales advertisements; it didn’t matter where she went it was Zales Zales ZALES! Until she finally put two and two together and figured out what she was going to get.

But how does Google track your sessions? And is there a way to block their Ad tracking cookie?

Surprisingly yes, Google’s business is to sell advertisement, but they do care about your privacy in a way. They give you the ability to opt-out of the session. According to Google, when you access the web through a browser, Google uses an advertisement cookie called the DoubleClick cookie, this cookie stores what kind of items, stories, and web pages you are visiting. This cookie is used to display more relevant ads to get you to buy things.

If your device, or system does not allow cookie technology, they actually assign an anonymous ID to your device. This ID is a completely random and anonymous string of characters. There are an advantage to this, when a Google ad is displayed, you can be sure that the advertisement is personalized based on your Google Account information.  Here is what Google says about this tracking cookie:

As you browse websites that have partnered with us or Google sites using the DoubleClick cookie, such as YouTube, Google may place the DoubleClick cookie in your browser to understand the types of pages visited or content that you viewed. To serve ads that are relevant and tailored to your interests in applications or other clients that use an anonymous ID, we may use information about your activity in applications or other clients. Based on this information and/or anonymized partner data, Google associates your browser or anonymous ID with relevant interest categories and uses these categories to show interest-based ads. For example, if you frequently visit travel websites, Google may show more ads related to travel. Or, if you download a golf application, Google may show you ads related to golf. Google can also use the types of pages that you have visited or content that you have viewed to infer your gender and the age category you belong to. For example, If the sites that you visit have a majority of female visitors (based on aggregated survey data on site visitation), we may associate your cookie with the female demographic category.

If you don’t like to be tracked because you feel your Christmas shopping will be ruined, there is a way to opt out of the tracking cookie advertisement.    Simply click on the “Opt out” button on the Ads Preferences Manager. When you are accessing the web through a web browser, during your browsing session, Google will not collect cookie information. Google also offers a number of options to permanently save your opt-out settings in your browser. After you opt out, Google will not collect interest category information and you will not receive interest-based ads.

So there you have it, if you don’t want Google to become this year’s Scrooge for Christmas, go ahead and opt out of the session. It may save you the sucky ness of having to deal with your family knowing exactly what you’re going to get them for Christmas.