There’s an influx of emails in the mailbox and lots of pop up ads whenever I start looking on the net. Does that sound familiar? Many commercial sites have bots in the background that track their visitors and target them when they are surfing the net. Looking for a local café to meet a client and the café 5 suburbs over you looked at a few days ago pops up beside the search? Agreements between different sites and browsers mean that you can be followed from site to site, with some of the offerings so far outside what’s being searched for that it can easily cause frustration and confusion.

When a free report or discount is offered within a few seconds of visiting a site, it tempting to pop in your email. This is another way for them to snag a direct way to advertise other offers to you.  Once the address is in their system, all the affiliates of the company have access to it as well.

I sent a fruit basket to a friend in the US for Christmas, through a well-known company. There are 10 other brands affiliated with this company and they form a collective, sending daily or weekly emails. That’s a lot of clutter to delete every day.

To cut through the deluge of ads the options are to unsubscribe or mark them as junk. That fixes some of the clutter, however what about the ads that don’t easily unsubscribe, or that appear out of nowhere? There is a simple solution and it’s to do a bulk unsubscribe, through the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI). The NAI is a not-for-profit that helps consumers choose the levels of advertising they receive. They offer a free opt-out mechanism that removes unwanted advertising – it’s like taking an eraser to a blackboard, it will remove most of the advertising and once it starts building up, it’s easy to run the opt-out program again and remove what’s accumulated in the background. I like to schedule it into my electronic calendar a few times a year and add the link into the task for the day.