You just bought your wife a nice Christmas present online. You’ve followed through with your purchase and can kick back to enjoy a nice, steaming mug of hot chocolate while basking in your accomplishment. She asks to use the computer. No big deal, right?

While online security is a big concern consumers have during the holiday season, as more than 44% of holiday gifts are purchased online, your biggest security concern may be ads that follow you around the internet and keeping them from the person you love the most.

During the holiday season, online marketers are beefing up their personalized retargeting efforts, utilizing the Google Display Network to target past visitors who have viewed product pages or have added those products to their online carts.

Personalized retargeting ads can appear just about anywhere, as retailers and their marketing partners are creating ads that follow you around the internet and buying up space on all kids of websites, including social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

So, if your wife happens to be using the computer after you buy her something, or even after you are just researching something she will probably like, it becomes very easy for her to connect the dots and for your “surprise” to be ruined by personalized retargeting.

This is what your wife will see on the St. Louis Post Dispatch website, for instance, after adding a Keurig coffee maker to your cart on JCPenny.com:

 

 She’ll think to herself: “Hey! That’s the coffee pot I really wanted! I wonder if Joe is buying me that…”

Then, she logs into Facebook. “Hey! It’s that same ad for that same coffee pot I wanted!”

Now, she knows for a fact she is getting that coffee pot. She also knows you bought it at JCPenny.

How to Stop Online Ads from Ruining Christmas

Advertisers have the power to foil your Christmas surprise if you’re not careful, but there are, however, things you can do to ensure you are protected from your wife, or anyone else who may use your computer this holiday season.

Download and Install Ad Blocking Extensions

There are several productivity-boosting extensions available in multiple browsers that will keep your browsing clear of any and all advertisements. Advertisements may be in more places that you think. Certain ad blockers can eliminate: paid search results, in-stream advertisements on YouTube, flash ads, sponsored Facebook posts, retargeting ads and other display ads that may not be targeted.

AdBlock is the most popular extension available for Google Chrome, and there are also versions of the extension available for Safari, Opera and Firefox available at getadblock.com.

Opt out of Ads Manually

You can easily figure out how to stop online ads without downloading anything. If you’re not opposed to an ad here or there, this is a particularly helpful way to keep the magic of Christmas contained. If you see a Facebook ad you don’t want your wife to see, simply click on the downward arrow in the right hand corner next to the “like” call to action button. If will give you several options, including “Hide all ads from JCPenney” in the Keurig ad, for instance. Go ahead and click that option. 

 On personalized retargeting ads elsewhere, click on the blue triangle in the right hand corner, which will be marked “Ad Choices” when you hover over it. Here, you will be given options to opt out of these specific ads. It will also tell you why you are being shown these ads.

Tracking cookies for retargeting efforts are browser-specific, so you could also tell your wife “You use Firefox and I’ll use Chrome. Ask questions later.”

More Tech Help from ThrottleNet

Now that you know how to stop online ads, ThrottleNet wants to help deliver you even more tech tips. Check out our TNTuneup video series, created to help you get the most out of your PC. Be sure to follow ThrottleNet on Facebook for more updates!