Ever notice the same ads appearing, no matter which Web site you visit? These are stalker ads. At some point you showed an interest in the product (at a Web site), which recorded your visit with a cookie stored on your computer. Ad firms read the cookie, and then serve up ads from that company on many other sites -- bombarding you with the same ad, over and over again.
In the ad world, this makes sense. In the real world, it doesn't. We know that repetition leads to irritation and tuning-out. Worse, the mindless stalking is a waste of advertising resources.
For instance, my daughter wanted to get the student edition of PhotoShop at the lowest price. I checked the Adobe Web site for their price to compare with the price at her university's bookstore. Now ads from Adobe stalk me, cluttering many of the sites I visit, urging me to make the student-edition purchase of a product in which I have no interest. A false lead.
Some vendors are kind enough to let us opt us. Notice the arrow in the upper left corner of the ad snipped below.
Click More Information & opt-out options, and then click Select All.
Missing from the list is Adobe. That's because they spent a big billion dollars on a company that does exactly what you don't want: stalking you with ads. There is an alternative.
Most Web browsers now have a way to surf the Web secretly, where no cookies are stored. In Opera, it is called Private mode; in Chrome, Incognito mode. Problem is, you need cookies to visit utility sites, like your bank and online email.