Trim the Fat From Those Ads with a Few Tips

We all hate ads, right? Unless you work for an ad’s agency… Uh, you may want to stop reading now. 😊 While ads do help make things free for us consumers, if you use access technology, finding an ad directly in the middle of your content, interrupting your reading flow, is frustrating to say the least. Today I’m going to show you some ways to somewhat stem the ad torrent on browsers and on YouTube. All of my solutions today will be free. I may write up a part 2 if there is interest.

Digital Advertising alliances Choice Tool for the Web is a website that enables you to opt out of interest-based ads. Below is some info from the website about what they do to help you control ads on the web. I have filtered down the info so that it isn’t too much, but it’s still a lot. If you think the below info is TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read), and you just want to start blocking ads, then start blocking ads now.

When you hit the above link, the website will take some time to check your browser settings. This really can take a few minutes. When it reaches 100%, hit the Continue button.

Next, you will want to find the Opt Out Of All button. The next page loads and you will find the following text:

Your opt-out choices are being requested from participating companies. This may take a few minutes

You will also have a progress bar showing the opt out process. When it is done, you will get something like the following:

Opt out requests for 30 participating companies were successfully completed for this browser.

Remember that you can do this on each browser, such as Firefox, Chrome, and Edge. You should also do this on mobile browsers on smartphones. You should now notice a decrease in ads, but they won’t be completely gone. 😞 Check below for more info on opting out of ads in this way.

About The DAA Program

What is the DAA Self-Regulatory Program?

The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) is an independent not-for-profit organization which establishes and enforces responsible privacy practices for relevant digital advertising, while giving consumers information and control over the types of digital advertising they receive. The DAA runs the YourAdChoices program and its WebChoices and mobile AppChoices consumer choice tools. The DAA also runs the PoliticalAds program, which is designed to increase transparency and accountability around digital express advocacy ads.

The DAA Self-Regulatory Program applies to data collection and use for interest-based advertising in the United States and its territories. For information regarding programs in other nations and regions, please visit sister organizations, respectively:

European Union/European Economic Area

To what data collection and use practices do the DAA Program apply?

The DAA has issued the following Principles and related Guidance:

The DAA’s Principles apply to interest-based advertising (sometimes called online behavioral advertising) and other applicable uses of Web-viewing and application use data collected from a particular computer or device over time and across different, unaffiliated Websites and apps. For interest-based advertising, the applicable Principles address the areas of education, transparency, consumer control, data security, changes to existing policies, sensitive data and accountability for interest-based advertising, and transparency and accountability for digital political advertising. The DAA’s Principles and guidance also address transparency and control for precise location data and personal directory data. They also apply to data collection for interest-based advertising purposes across devices.

What is interest-based advertising?

Interest-based advertising (IBA) – which is also sometimes called “online behavioral advertising” – uses information gathered about your visits over time and across different websites or applications in order to help predict your preferences and show you ads that are more likely to be of interest to you. For example, a sporting goods manufacturer might work with an advertising network that collects and uses interest-based advertising information to deliver ads to the browsers of users that have recently visited sports-related sites, or an airline might direct ads to users that recently visited mobile travel apps.

How does interest-based advertising work?

When a user visits a website or uses an app that works with an advertising network or other online advertising companies, these advertising companies gather information about the user’s browser or device in order to tell when that same user browser or device visits other websites or apps within the same network – even if these content offerings are run by different companies or have different web addresses or brands. Over time, the information gathered about the browser or device may help predict the user’s likely interest in particular categories of ads: for example, users who frequently visit baseball-related websites might receive more ads for the “baseball/sports enthusiast” category, or users who engage with automobile review apps might receive more ads for the particular models of cars that interest them. This inferred interest category is used to provide advertising relevant to the category to a particular browser or device.

What are the benefits of interest-based advertising for me?

The most important benefit of interest-based advertising is the free Internet itself. For example, many non-subscription websites and online services rely on this type of advertising for revenue, so they do not have to charge users for the content they provide or otherwise subsidize the cost for providing content and services. When you check the news or the weather online, scan your favorite entertainment site or blog, play a free online game or app, or watch a popular TV show or music video on your computer, you are seeing the consumer benefits of online advertising at work.

Put another way, advertising is the financial engine that powers most of the free websites and apps. Interest-based advertising is a significant part of that economic model. Without interest-based advertising, some free websites, apps and services might have to start charging their users or increasing fees, and others would not be able to continue delivering innovative online services. In fact, Americans assigned a value of nearly $1,200 per year to the array of free, ad-supported services and content currently available to them on computers and mobile devices, according to a survey conducted by Zogby Analytics.

There’s another benefit of interest-based advertising for users as well: more relevant ads. When advertisers use interest-based advertising tools, you get ads that are more interesting, relevant, and useful to you. If you’re a college student, for example, then you might be more interested in seeing ads for spring break destinations than for retirement homes. If you like musicals, then you might want a ticket offer for a new show and not to the ballet. Those relevant ads improve the online experience and help users find things that interest them more easily.

What types of information do companies use to advertise to me online?

In addition to interest-related information, online advertising companies may use information about users’ general location, such as their city or ZIP Code, so that they can market products of most interest to a particular region (snow shovels to residents of northern states, for example), or help local advertisers reach their customers.

Advertising companies may also use demographic information, such as age, gender or occupation provided during registration for access and use of a site, or they can attempt to infer such information based on the general demographics of visitors to a particular site. They may separately use the data they have collected online to make additional predictions about users’ interests or backgrounds, or they may combine their data with related information from other sources.

A typical set of information associated with a user’s web browser might include:

  • Gender: Male
  • Age range: 25-34
  • Geography: Washington DC metro area
  • Interested in baseball
  • Interested in travel to Europe
  • Car shopper

Some advertising companies give users access to the categories of information associated with users’ browsers, so users can edit that information to make it more useful and accurate.

What can I do if I don’t want to receive interest-based advertising?

You can opt out of receiving interest-based advertising from the companies participating in the DAA program’s “WebChoices” consumer choice tool, which is available in versions for desktop and mobile browsers. DAA also offers a separate choice tool – “AppChoices” — for the collection of cross-app data on a mobile device for interest-based advertising and other applicable uses. To exercise choice for companies participating in this choice tool, you can install the DAA’s AppChoices app. Some companies participating in the DAA may also provide profile management tools. Please follow the company link from the listing within the WebChoices or AppChoices tools to explore these additional controls.

After you opt out using WebChoices or AppChoices, the participating companies will no longer collect, use, or transfer information about activity on your browser or device, respectively, for the purpose of interest-based advertising or any other applicable data practice covered by the DAA Principles. They may, however, continue to serve online advertising on the pages or apps you visit that is not dependent on information about your online interests and may continue to use data for purposes other than interest-based advertising such as operational purposes, fraud prevention, and analytics.

Browsers and mobile operating systems also provide other privacy mechanisms. We encourage you to review the privacy control settings available in your browser or device platforms settings. Note that some of these controls (such as settings that block first or third-party cookies) may impede the storage of your WebChoices opt-out preferences and may need to be reset to accept such cookies, as you use the WebChoices tool to opt-out, to honor your opt-out requests successfully.

About DAA’s WebChoices: what it does – and doesn’t – do

How does DAA’s “WebChoices” consumer choice tool work?

Companies that engage in interest-based advertising are required to provide consumers with an easy-to-use mechanism for exercising choice about the collection and use of information covered by the DAA’s Principles.

WebChoices gathers together in one place the opt-out mechanisms provided by participating companies, offering visitors a “one-stop” platform through which to opt out from the collection of Web-viewing data for interest-based advertising and other applicable uses, by some or all participating companies.

WebChoices also provides useful information about visitors’ browser status with respect to interest-based advertising, including information about which participating companies are already customizing ads for a user’s browser.

WebChoices does not, however, provide information about advertising companies that do not participate in the DAA Program, or provide opt outs to any form of advertising provided by these non-participating companies.

The DAA separately provides the AppChoices app for consumers to control data collected and used across apps on mobile devices by DAA companies participating in that tool.

Will WebChoices block me from receiving any web-based ads or email advertisements?

No. The opt-outs available through the WebChoices tool apply to interest-based advertising and other applicable uses of web-viewing data by the DAA’s participating companies. The opt out choices do not apply to other types of ads provided by these companies, or carry over to ads displayed in mobile apps (for which the DAA’s AppChoices tool may be used instead for the companies participating in that tool).

For example, even after opting out of interest-based advertising from a participating company, a user may still receive other types of advertising from that company, including ads selected on the basis of the content of the web page (“contextual” ads), or other types of information (for example, demographic or general computer browser location information).

The opt-out choices provided through WebChoices and AppChoices do not apply to electronic email (or “spam”), postal mail, or pop-ups.

Furthermore, opt-out choices via WebChoices are browser- and device-specific, and users seeking to control interest-based advertising on other browsers and devices should repeat WebChoices use on each browser and device they use.

To learn more about how particular websites or applications collect or use data for other types of advertising, users should review the privacy policies of the websites and apps that they visit.

What are opt-out cookies and how do they remember opt-out preferences?

Many online companies use cookies to remember users’ preferences about the collection and use of data. These “opt-out cookies” help the participating companies to “recognize” users who have opted out through the DAA Program, and to respect that choice.

When a user exercises choice, those companies place an “opt-out” cookie in the user’s browser to tell the company not to deliver such advertising in future. Opt-out cookies storing such preferences that are placed by companies participating in the DAA Program have a minimum five-year lifespan, and remain in effect for the user’s browser unless these opt-out cookies are deleted (as can happen if users deletes all of their cookies using browser tools). Users should visit WebChoices periodically to review or update their browser preferences or to set preferences for new participating companies.

To prevent accidental deletion of your opt out preferences, the DAA offers a variety of browser extensions to protect your choices. To download and install the available browser extensions, please visit the DAA’s Protect My Choices page.

Browser settings such as those that blocks third party or first party cookies interfere with your ability set an opt out cookie.  If you would like to use WebChoices to state your preferences against companies participating in this tool, set your browser to accept third party and first party cookies.

Does opting out stop participating companies from collecting any data?

No. Opting out for a particular browser tells the participating companies to stop engaging in interest-based advertising and other applicable data practices under the DAA Program. Advertisements not based on interest data – including those based on general location or registration data – will continue to be delivered to the browser.

After you opt out, participating companies and the Websites you visit may continue to collect and use information for other purposes. For example, participating companies may still collect and use advertising data to measure the number of ads served for a particular campaign, to limit the number of times a particular ad is served to a unique browser, for security, or to prevent fraud. In some cases, automated systems will continue to collect other data about browser visits but that data should no longer be used to deliver interest-based advertising to the user.

In addition, data may be collected and used by participating companies and Websites for a variety of purposes unrelated to advertising, including the operation of online products and services, or where the data has or will within a reasonable period of time from collection go through a de-identification process.

Will WebChoices work if my browser is set to block cookies?

No. Your browser must be set to accept third-party cookies in order WebChoices to properly display status results and to set opt-out preferences for your browser. The following links show how to adjust the browser settings of commonly used browsers:

Safari and Firefox browser users may experience default settings that currently interfere with how cookies work, and must first reset to accept cookies before using WebChoices. This includes the opt-out cookies set by the WebChoices tool for participating companies. To set your choices preferences successfully through WebChoices while using Safari, please go to your device’s settings and tap the following: “Safari > Preferences > Privacy”; and uncheck “Prevent cross-site tracking.” After you change this setting, go back to WebChoices and run the tool again.

Does using WebChoices on one device or browser set preferences for every computer or device that I use?

No. The opt-out preferences set by WebChoices are associated with the browser and device that you use to set those preferences, not with all the browsers and devices that you use collectively as an individual. When you use a different browser, or a different device, you will need to revisit WebChoices to review your status and set your preferences for that browser and device.  In addition, for apps in the mobile environment, you will need to separately set preferences for each different device you use. Please visit our AppChoices tool for cross-app data collection choice.

Additionally, there are cross-device protections when using WebChoices (or AppChoices). Setting a WebChoices opt-out on a particular device or browser does prevent data collection on that device or browser for interest-based advertising from being used on another device or browser elsewhere. Additionally, data collected on other devices or browsers for interest-based advertising may not be applied on any device or browser where a WebChoices (or AppChoices) opt-out has been applied.

I’ve set my preferences using AppChoices – why am I still seeing ads inside apps?

AppChoices is designed to halt cross-app data collection to serve interest-based ads. In place of interest-based ads, generic ads are served so that the app content you are accessing can be paid for by advertising.

How to Use the DAA’s WebChoices Consumer Choice Tool (Video)

The following video will help explain how to use WebChoices. For those who would rather read a step-by-step tutorial, you may jump here.

How to Use the DAA’s WebChoices Consumer Choice Tool (Tutorial)

The WebChoices Consumer Choice Tool allows you to choose whether or not you receive interest-based advertising from companies participating in the Self-Regulatory Program. You can (1) learn which participating companies have currently enabled customized ads for your browser; (2) make choices about the collection of Web viewing data for interest-based advertising and other applicable uses under the DAA Principles, from some or all participating WebChoices companies; and (3) find out which companies have already set an opt-out cookie in your browser. You may choose to opt-out from one or more participating companies, or opt out from all participating companies with a single click.

  1. The Initial Experience: Landing Page and Processes
  2. Opting Out: Your Choices and Step-by-Step Instructions
  3. The Final Step: Requesting Opt Outs
  4. Unavailable Statuses, Incomplete Requests, and What You Can Do About Them


1. The Initial Experience: Landing Page and Processes

When you visit WebChoices, you will see an image similar to the one below showing that the tool is performing an initial check of your browser for quality of connectivity and cookie permissions:

WebChoices checks your browser settings and your computer to identify: (1) whether first-party and third-party cookies are enabled; (2) which participating companies, if any, are currently customizing ads for your browser; and (3) the participating companies, if any, for which you’ve already set an opt out.  After the status check completes, you’ll see the following, with results specific for your browser:

At this point, you may optionally click on an individual company participating in the tool to see (1) if they are currently customizing ads on your browser; (2) the availability of an opt-out of data collection for interest-based advertising purposes; (3) the use of either or both cookie and non-cookie technology to enable interest-based advertising tailored for your browser; (4) a short description of the company; and (5) the ability to click on and inspect the company’s privacy policy in a new tab.


2 Opting Out: Your Choices and Step-by-Step Instructions


a. Opting Out of Individual Companies

Once the status check is complete you’ll see the “Customizing Ads For Your Browser” column, which shows the participating companies that have currently enabled interest-based ads for your browser, indicated by “Yes” and “No.” The column on the left – “Company” – shows all the participating companies in this cross-industry program in alphabetical order.  The column on the right – “Opt Out?” – shows which participating companies have already set an opt-out setting for your browser.

You can click on a company’s name to learn more about its practices. To opt out from one or more participating companies, simply check the box corresponding to the company’s name and click on the “Submit your choices” button. If a check mark appears in “Opt Out?” column, an opt-out setting from that company has already been set for your browser.


b. Opting Out of All Companies with a Single Click

If you prefer to set an opt-out preference under the DAA Principles for all participating companies, then you may click the “OPT OUT OF ALL” button located at the bottom of the pane.

3. The Final Step: Requesting Opt Outs

When you click on the “SUBMIT YOUR CHOICES” or “OPT OUT OF ALL” button, a similar image to the following will appear:

This indicates WebChoices processing your opt-out requests in real time. Once your opt-out request(s) are submitted to the participating companies, an overlay box will indicate whether or not all of your opt-out requests completed successfully.

WebChoices makes it easy to find out about participating companies that provide interest-based advertising, and to make choices about whether to receive these types of ads in your browser.


4. Unavailable Statuses, Incomplete Requests, and What You Can Do About Them

Users of WebChoices will sometimes receive messages indicating that status information for one or more participating companies is not available, or that one or more opt-out requests were not completed. In either case, repeating the request may address the issue – since the opt-out requests are happening in real time: you can refresh the WebChoices tool to re-check for status, or use “TRY AGAIN” to repeat your opt-out request(s) for some or all companies. Status and opt-out issues that involve a significant number of participating companies may indicate that your browser or its settings are affecting the opt-out process.

If the status of one or more companies is listed as unavailable, then you will see a version of the following image specific to your browser:

You can click on “More Information” for more information about interest-based advertising. You can also see the companies for which status information was not completed by reviewing the top of the company listing at the “Company” column. You can also see which opt-out requests were not completed on the WebChoices landing page, if any, by inspecting for unchecked boxes under the “Opt Out?” column.

For more detailed information about the Status Check and Incomplete Opt Outs, including computer and software requirements, and warnings, click “Need help?”

Blocking Do Not Track Requests in Your Browser

In most browsers, within Settings, under Privacy and/or Security, you will have an option called Do Not Track. I would highly recommend turning on this setting. This tells your browser to notify websites that you do not want to be tracked throughout the internet. Imagine the nerve! 😖 Again, you will need to do this on each browser.

Read Mode

Another option that can often be used to hide ads is Read Mode. Most browsers either have Read Mode built-in or have an extension that can enable it. So, what is Read Mode?

This is a mode in the browser that makes it easier to read a web page that has an article or blog post. For people that rely on access technology, it’s extra great, because it strips out distractions on the page, such as extra menus and links that are not central to the article. Read Mode sometimes enlarges the text, and/or provides buttons to enlarge the text, change the color, or even read the page to you.

If you use Firefox, use F9 to get into read mode. If you use Edge, use CONTROL+SHIFT+R. Chrome has a few extensions that can enable read mode. Hopefully soon, Chrome will also have a dedicated read mode in the browser. If this already exists and I missed it, please let me know and I’ll update this article.

Ads in YouTube

There really isn’t a neat trick in YouTube to block ads automatically… Unless you pay YouTube. 😏 However, when you notice an ad playing in YouTube, try to find the Skip Ad button. It doesn’t always appear, and it doesn’t show up instantly as soon as an ad starts playing, but if you’re using a screen reader, you can press the letter B to jump by buttons and find it. As soon as it’s pressed, the ad will be skipped and you can once again enjoy your tube.

Happy Ad Culling

I really hope you can use this article to help stop some of those irritating ads. I would also like to thank George for suggesting this article. Please feel free to suggest articles that you want me to write up for you by contacting me.


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