Advertising, Analytics and Privacy
Advertising is a core part of AOL’s business. Many of our free Services—such as AOL.ca, The Huffington Post, and TechCrunch—are supported by the ads we display on those Services. We also provide a variety of online advertising services through the AOL Advertising Network to other companies that want to place ads on our Services and elsewhere.
The ads we display are more effective when they are shown to users who are likely to be interested in the product or service advertised. For this reason, we use the data we collect and receive to help us choose which ads to show to users. This page provides more information about how advertising works on our Services and the choices you have about that advertising. It also explains how we work with analytics providers, which are companies that help us understand how people use our Services and respond to the ads we serve.
The Ads We Show You
Through the AOL Advertising Network, we provide ads on our websites and apps, as well on other companies’ websites and apps. Some of the ads we show you are based on the content of the page or app you’re viewing. These kinds of ads are sometimes called “contextual ads.”
Other ads we show you may be based on information we have collected or received about your activities and interests. These ads are sometimes called “interest-based” ads. Some interest-based ads are based only on an isolated online activity, such as if you were to go to an online bookstore and look at a particular novel but not buy it. The bookseller might want to show you an ad for that novel because you’re probably more interested in buying it than the average online user. This kind of interest-based advertising is sometimes called “retargeting” or “remarketing.”
Other interest-based ads are shown based on a user’s online activities over time and across different websites. Advertising companies—including AOL—may collect information about a user’s online activities in this way in order to make predictions about what products or services a user may be interested in. Based on these predictions, we and other companies may categorize users as belonging to a “segment” of users to which advertisers may be interested in showing ads. For example, if you’ve recently visited car dealers’ websites, you might be grouped in a “Potential Car Buyers” segment. And a car dealer who places ads with AOL might want its ads to be shown to the users, like you, who are in this segment.
How We Use Data to Provide More Effective Advertising
As noted above, we use the data we collect or receive about users’ online activities to help us show ads for products or services users are likely to be interested in. (For more information about the data we collect or receive, please click here.) Please note that we retain certain information, such as IP addresses, for a limited time to aid in the targeting of ads, as well as for fraud detection and prevention.
IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are used for diagnosing technical problems, reducing fraud, measuring traffic, and ensuring advertisements and content are more accurate and appropriate. They may also be used to help maintain a consistent advertising and content experience across all of a user’s devices.
We also get data from other sources that help us provide more effective advertising. For example, we may use data that is available from public or commercial sources and combine that data with other data we have collected or received about a user or the user’s device.
Another way we use data to help display better ads is by analyzing the effectiveness of the ads we show. For example, if we show you an ad for a discounted pair of shoes at a retailer that advertises with us, we (and the retailer) might compare data about the people who saw ads with data about people who later bought the shoes in one of its stores. AOL and the retailer protect users’ privacy by using a third-party intermediary that receives information from AOL about the users who have viewed the retailer’s ads and information from the retailer about the people who have purchased the products or services advertised in the ads. The intermediary uses its own data to recognize whether any of the users in the AOL group are also in the retailer’s group. The intermediary then provides the retailer aggregated statistics about the number of people who purchased the product after seeing an ad for it. Neither AOL nor the advertiser receives any other data in this process, and the intermediary is prohibited from using the data it receives from AOL for any purpose other than the comparison.
How We Work with Analytics Providers
Other Companies That Help Us Provide Effective Advertising
We work with a number of other companies that help us provide more effective advertising. These companies do things like help us deliver ads to people who are most likely to be interested in seeing them, keep track of the number of users who saw a particular ad or visited a particular page on one of our websites, and analyze the effectiveness of our ads. Click on the links below to learn more about these companies’ practices and the choices they may offer in connection with advertising. We may update this list from time to time, so you should review this list periodically.
cookies, web beacons, and similar technologies on or in connection with our Services.
Please visit the Network Advertising Initiative and the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada for additional information about online advertising where additional third-party providers may be listed.
The Choices You Have Regarding the Ads On Our Services
While it is not possible to turn off all advertising, you do have the ability to control whether to receive interest-based ads.
You can opt out of receiving interest-based ads from us when you browse the web by visiting the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada’s consumer choice page and selecting “AOL Advertising.” Please note that your opt-out choice will apply only to the browser and device you are using when you opt out. AOL is committed to complying with the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising and the Network Advertising Initiative’s Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct, and the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada’s Self-Regulatory Principles. You can make your opt-out choice apply to any browser and device you use while signed into AOL by adjusting your AOL Marketing Preferences.
Also, please note that deleting the cookies in your browser may cancel the opt-out. The Digital Advertising Alliance offers Protect My Choices, which will ensure that your opt-out settings persist regardless of whether you delete your cookies.
You can learn how to opt-out of receiving targeted ads from AOL in mobile apps at Mobile Device Choices.