How do Ads Find Your Location?
It’s common knowledge that advertisers and marketing companies gather and store quite a bit of information on online users. From collecting data on user interests and activity to allowing third-party cookies, they have a heap of tools at their disposal.
What’s more concerning than this is that advertisers can also follow your physical location everywhere you go. In this week’s Zlog, we’ll take a look at the ways advertisers get precise location data on online users and share with you some tips on how to stop them from doing the same to you.
Where Do These Advertisers Get the Data From?
There are three primary sources from which advertisers can get your personal information, including your location. They are:
- The Users Themselves – The truth is, ads get the most information from users themselves. If you ever signed up with a site and shared your city or postal code, you’ve opened the door for them to narrow down your location. With this information, a website can pass down your data to another site and service, which can then combine it with info from other sites and get a more precise location.
- The Internet Service Provider – Did you ever get a targeted ad when accessing a new site for the first time? This might be because your ISP is selling user information to third-party advertising companies. Selling anonymous browsing logs is a fairly common practice among ISPs. That said, the only way to check this is to reach out to your ISP and require them to provide this information.
- Search Engines and Apps– This could apply to any app or service that includes geo-location features and can be tied close to some of the biggest tech companies, such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and many others. Their search engines and apps most often collect data from two sources, GPS and Wi-Fi hotspots. They then share this information with advertisers, which display ads that relate specifically to your location.
How to Stop Advertisers from Tracking You
Turn Off Location Sharing Settings
While this may seem like a trivial thing to do, most mobile users have location sharing turned on by default. By having this setting on, you’re telling all services, including any third-party advertisers, where you are at all times. If you want to protect yourself from this, make sure to be thorough and check the setting on all of your devices. Go through your device’s operating system, check which apps and browsers require location sharing, and turn off all of these features.
Turn Off Bluetooth
Bluetooth beacons and mobile towers are all around us. They use data directly shared by some users through their GPS and mobile phones to determine the physical location of all users connected on the same network.
As you move around your city or travel around the country, these towers are always passing information between each other to calculate your position best. And, even though most cell carriers have said that they will stop selling this data for extra profits, this is still a problem, especially in the US.
Hide Your IP Address
As a VPN service, we regularly advocate the importance of online privacy and security. Protecting your IP address and home network is one of the most crucial things you can do to safeguard your privacy and anonymity. It only takes one time to be negligent with sharing your IP address, and all sites you visit in the future will know your location.
When it comes to protecting your IP address, the two best ways to do it are with a privacy-friendly browser, like Tor, and with a reliable VPN service. By using a Virtual Private Network, you can stay anonymous online and browse the Internet without any concerns that your activity data is being tracked and stored.
A Quick Takeaway
The tips we shared with you in this article can go a long way into blocking advertisers from tracking down your location. But, besides implementing these things, make sure to exercise caution everywhere you go. Be mindful of what data you share with websites and try not to overexpose your IP address. Get a VPN today, and secure your sensitive information. Sign up with ZoogVPN and enjoy 10GB or free bandwidth a month for an unlimited period.