Behavioral online advertising, it's giving me the creeps!

Real Estate Agent with Thompson Company, REALTORS® MD594797

I am a big planner and rarely buy anything on impulse. Well, okay, except for shoes. For the most part though, I research, collect ideas, develop a vision and then budget according to my final plan. My approach means that I spend a good amount of time online looking stuff up, saving possibilities and Pinteresting (is that a word?).

Behavioral Online AdvertisingBut then Google et al decided that stalking people sounds like a lot of fun and money and they invented online behavioral advertising. It gave me the creeps the first time I noticed a product similar to the one I had just researched popping up everywhere I went online.

It still gives me the creeps. Those advertising dollars are completely lost on me. It's like inviting a person who is stalking you into your home. Would you like a cup of tea with those binoculars?

It is not enticing me to visit a page. Au contraire! I tend to avoid the companies that are haunting appear to follow me everywhere I go in the virtual world.

I was talking with a friend about this very topic the other day and he told me about a website currently in its BETA stage: Opt Out From Online Behavioral Advertising.

How did I not know about that? Even Facebook (imagine that) has a link to it under your settings → Facebook Ads. Maybe I did and just didn't pay much attention to it because this whole targeted online advertising thing didn't seem as obvious at first.

The consumer opt-out page is a self-regulatory program (flaw!). Nevertheless, I was able to successfully opt-out from 120 companies who specialize in creeping people out online behavioral advertising. Onehundredtwenty! There are 2 other companies who participate but their "status is currently unavailable".

I am sharing this info because chances are that there are others who are just as creeped out as me and are not aware of the opt out page.

If you decide to follow the link, please know that you'll have to do the same for all the browsers you use on all your electronic devices you surf the web on. And you should do so periodically.

Behavioral online advertising, it's giving me the creeps!

Posted by







Thompson Company, REALTORS
16910 Oak Hill Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20905
o: (301) 384-9177 c: (240)593-2860

Andrea is a REALTOR® based in Silver Spring, MD. She has enjoyed assisting buyers and sellers since 2004 and focuses on residential Real Estate in  Montgomery and Howard County, MD. Andrea is a proud mom and hobby decorator with a vintage soul. She always answers the phone with a smile, enjoys running and treasure hunting and is addicted to coffee.


 All photographs are my own and I'd like to keep it that way. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.




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  1. Mike Cooper, GRI 01/30/2015 10:45 PM
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Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I enjoyed your post and I was glad Kathy put it on her weekly summary page this week!  I should opt out of this too bc it is creepy!

Jan 31, 2015 11:04 PM #15
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

This type of advertising IS creepy -- I made airline reservations and hotel reservations the other night; and immediately I started getting facebook ads for the same hotels I was looking at on a totally different site.  Ick.

Feb 01, 2015 01:08 AM #16
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Big Brother gets bigger each year...

Feb 01, 2015 01:18 AM #17
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Andrea - o yes.  I have noticed that too.  I am not sure it gives me the creeps especially if I am still looking.

Feb 01, 2015 04:22 AM #18
Cindy Edwards
RE/MAX Checkmate - Johnson City, TN
CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677

I agree!! However, I was shopping these boots I really really wanted.  I started on Thursday and the price was $507.00.  I was not going to buy them until I sold all the boots I didn't wear in my closet (craigs list)  By Sunday, I sold $400.00 worth of boots in my closet...hee hee......I was getting ready to buy the boots on line (which I had researched every day on several different sites)  and I got a pop up offering me a one time price of $307.00 for a Sunday special!!!  I bought I cleaned my closet out!

Feb 01, 2015 05:08 AM #19
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Andrea, I noticed that I get a lot of real estate related suggestions.  Apparently, they must think im in the market!  :-)

Feb 01, 2015 05:57 AM #20
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

I was talking with a friend of mine just the other day about this.  It really is creepy.

Feb 01, 2015 06:40 AM #21
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

That's a good reason not to opt Debbie.

Totally Mike .. especially if I just looked something up, decided against it and now I'm being bombarded with that same stuff that I am not interested in.

I was surprised to see that FB has a link to the opt out page Rebecca.

Thank you Kathy!

I don't Fred!

Exactly Russ and we know that one very well, don't we?!

You are welcome Wayne.

It is, Nina. Makes me feel like somebody is following my every move.

Did you follow the link Kristin?

That would be the perfect example Kat.. quick, opt out. I just did it a couple of days ago but I do believe it's working.

Yes Gary. It's sad.

It gives me the creeps Grant. See Kat's example, that's what I'm talking about.

Good for you Cindy. You said the magic word "boots".. but it still would creep me out. So how did they know that you wouldn't be able to resist that offer? Or hadn't bought them somewhere else already?

LOL, I wonder how they could possibly figure that one out Silvia! No, thank you, I don't need any foreclosure listings and, yes, I know that I am being invited to be a Zillow Premiere Agent..

Send you friend the link Chris Ann.. thus far, it appears to be making a difference.

Feb 01, 2015 09:18 AM #22
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Andrea, Glad to know there is an opt out!! Thanks for sharing!

Feb 01, 2015 12:35 PM #23
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

Hi Andrea Bedard ,  Thanks for the information.  Ther are a few that I would like to get rid of.

Feb 01, 2015 01:46 PM #24
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I'm glad Kathy shared this because I agree with you.  Creep me out. I didn't know about the facebook opt out.  If nothing else I will do that.

Feb 01, 2015 10:50 PM #25
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Andrea Bedard ... saw this happen just yesterday afternoon here on AR.  My wife had borrowed my computer to look at something just a few minutes earlier .. and "poof", don't you know that ads for those very items appear here almost immediately.  It DOES give you the creeps ... and seems predatory ...


Feb 02, 2015 12:23 AM #26
Beth and Richard Witt
Long Island Cash Home Buyer - Huntington, NY
Long Island Cash Home Buyer 516-330-6940

I've been noticing this online advertising recently and I do find it creepy so I was very happy to have a way to get rid of it thanks to you and thanks to Kathy... 

Feb 02, 2015 01:48 AM #27
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Hello Andrea,

I agree, it is creepy and I tend to not use google/chrome online because of all that google allows!

Feb 02, 2015 04:09 AM #28
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

Andrea, I enable ad blocker on google chrome browser so that when I use chrome I don't get those ads. I've heard about facebook ads showing up and it is creepy. You offer a solution for those who want to use facebook and continue to keep shopping private.  

Feb 02, 2015 07:41 AM #29
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

I am so glad I saw this post.  I have bookmarked it so I can block a lot of these ads.  It is creepy and anoying.

Feb 02, 2015 12:06 PM #30
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Andrea, it is creepy for sure! Who knows what else they're watching. Thanks for the link.

Feb 02, 2015 10:06 PM #31
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I had someone try to get me to do this type of "creeping" following advertising.  I thought it was weird too.  Glad that I am not the only one.

Feb 03, 2015 12:02 PM #32
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

I don't understand how/why.

If I didn't buy the watch 2 days they think showing it to me every day will help?

Or...I swear, the coffee shop follows me too.  What, will I buy more coffee?

Now that I've opted I'll get ads for things I couldn't care less about, asif I'll buy that, right?

Thank you for showing this.

Feb 03, 2015 12:26 PM #33
Debbie Laity
Cedaredge Land Company - Cedaredge, CO
Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO

I just started noticing this. After I went back to ordering my herbal supplements online, I started getting side bar advertising on my email from companies selling herbal supplements. Also I checked out vacuum cleaner supplies and online, and guess what...I'm not getting ads for vacuums. It was creepy at first. 

Feb 07, 2015 09:52 AM #34
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