Keep your online shopping private and avoid retargeting 

March 10, 2023
Keep your online shopping private and avoid retargeting 

Online shopping has become an essential part of modern consumer behaviour. It has made it easier for customers to buy goods and services from the comfort of their own homes. However, as the popularity of online shopping grows, so does consumer privacy concern. Consumer privacy can be jeopardised by retargeting, the practise of targeting advertisements to consumers based on their browsing history.

We'll go over some of the ways we as consumers can keep our online shopping private and avoid retargeting in this quick article.

1. When shopping online, one popular way to limit the amount of personal information given to sites and avoid retargeting is to use incognito or private browsing mode. Incognito mode and private browsing do not save browsing history, cookies, or search history, making it a lot more difficult for companies to continue tracking customers. Typically, retargeting relies on tracking consumer behaviour via cookies, which are small text files that store information about a user's browsing history.

2. When a user visits a website, it may ask the user to accept or decline cookies. If a user accepts, cookies can be utilised to track the customer’s behaviour on and off the site. Cookies can be used to track a range of information such as the consumer's browsing history, including which products or services were viewed. Incognito mode does not record a consumer's history, cookies, or other information, but it does not encrypt the consumer's internet traffic. Unfortunately, this means that an ISP or website can still see the customer's browsing history or location.

3. Customers can also use ad-blockers to prevent retargeting ads from appearing in their web browsers. Ad blockers work by detecting and blocking scripts, images, and other website elements that are used to display advertisements. Scripts used to track consumer behaviour as well as scripts used to display retargeting ads are examples of this. Ad-blockers are available as browser extensions or standalone software applications.

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4. Another way to keep your online shopping private is to use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts internet traffic, making tracking consumer behaviour difficult for businesses as a customer may choose to change their location to a different country. When a user connects to a VPN, it establishes a secure, encrypted link between the user's device and the VPN server. This encryption makes tracking the user's online activity difficult for anyone, including companies and advertisers. All data sent between the user's device and the VPN server is encrypted, making it impossible for third parties to intercept and read it. This includes IP addresses, browsing history, and location data, which is commonly used for retargeting.

Although VPNs can help reduce the chance of retargeting by companies, it doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of it happening. Some VPN providers may keep records of a user’s internet activity such as their browsing history, and if you're using a free or unreliable provider, they may provide a false sense of security - the level of encryption may be very weak. So, before you begin using VPNs, it's important to research and choose a reputable VPN provider that offers a no-log policy and that encrypts all the traffic. If you are not comfortable with using a VPN, consumers can use a separate email address and payment method when shopping online. Though this method may not be as effective or reliable as using a VPN or incognito mode, it's another small way you can avoid retargeting.

5. Consumers can also limit the amount of personal information they provide when shopping online. For example, consumers can choose not to save their shipping and billing information on e-commerce websites. Opting out of email and text message marketing from companies is another way to limit the amount of personal information provided when online shopping.

This can be done by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of an email or text message or by contacting the company directly. I f you really want to take the extra step, using a virtual credit card of a payment service can also help customers limit the amount of personal information they provide when online shopping. Virtual credit card numbers, offered by some banks or credit card companies, provide a temporary number that can be used for online purchases and help to keep personal information private.

6. Finally, consumers can research companies and their privacy policies before making a purchase. This can help to ensure that the company respects consumer privacy and does not engage in retargeting. Privacy policies will generally give customers information about how the company collects, uses, and shares customer data.

By understanding a company’s data collection and use practices, customers can make more informed decisions about whether to engage with that company and how to limit the amount of personal information they provide. Hence, better decision making can help you avoid retargeting.

In conclusion, retargeting can compromise consumer privacy when shopping online. However, there are several ways in which consumers can maintain their privacy, such as using incognito or private browsing mode, ad-blockers, virtual private networks, separate email and payment method, limiting personal information provided, and researching companies and their privacy policies. By implementing these strategies, consumers can better protect their privacy while shopping online.

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