National Consumer Protection Week Daily Tip: Control Your Data Online

March 05, 2014

We all know that advertising pays for a lot of the great, free content we see online, but how do advertisers know what kind of ads will appeal to you? They use "online behavioral advertising," also known as "interest-based advertising," a technique that uses your visits to websites to display online ads that are most likely to interest you. It's a great way for advertisers to personalize their messages to you, but you have a lot more control than you may know, thanks to the BBB Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program.


Get to Know the AdChoices Icon


You've probably noticed this logo or AdChoices message popping up on ads around the internet. Click on it to learn more about that why that advertisement was directed to you, or to opt-out from future collection and use of your web browsing data. You can also check out a list of businesses that collect and use data for OBA purposes. This notice is usually at the bottom of the page near the privacy policy link. Common phrases to look out for to find this notice, are "Ad Choices," "AboutAds," "Cookies" or the AdChoices Icon. Click on this link to exercise your choice.


Visit the AboutAds Consumer Choice Page for more information.


File a Complaint


If you believe a business is delivering ads to you based on your online browsing activity without giving you notice and choice through the icon or the AdChoices message, let us know. The more information you can give us, the better able we will be to act on your report. If you can capture screen shots related to your report, you can send them to, either as attachments to your report or by separate email.


Fill out our easy-to-use online report form. 


Learn More about the Participants


Hundreds of websites and other businesses support this initiative - over 90 percent of the companies that deliver ads to you. These are companies that have committed to respect your privacy and choice about participation in online interest-based advertising. Look for the AdChoices icon and make your choice.


Check out the AdChoices participants.