We understand that some people have more of an understanding of the phrase interest-based advertising than others. This website has been put together to make this topic clearer for everyone.

Put simply, Interest-based advertising (or online behavioural advertising) is a practice that is based on internet browsing activity, over time and across different websites and/or apps, and allows brands to deliver adverts to web users which reflect their interests. It’s safe, transparent, and designed to empower you, the consumer.


The European advertising industry has developed a set of good practice principles that businesses should follow. This good practice is based upon businesses being transparent about the information that is collected and used for this purpose and seeks to provide you with control. At the heart of this is an ‘icon’ or symbol that is appearing in the advertisements you may see on websites or apps.

What is interest-based advertising?

Interest-based advertising is a way of serving advertisements on the websites you visit and making them more relevant to you and your interests. Shared interests are grouped together based upon previous web browsing activity and web users are then served advertising which matches their shared interests. In this way, advertising can be made as relevant and useful as possible. Relevant ads can also be delivered based upon the website contents’, including products, you have recently been viewing. This is known as ‘retargeting’.

How does it work?

Who are the companies that are involved in interest-based advertising?

The following types of companies are involved:

  • Advertiser – a company that sells a product or service and runs advertising campaigns to promote that product or service.
  • Advertising Server – a company with technology that delivers advertising to a relevant page on a website.
  • Advertising Exchange – a company that acts as an open market place for the buying and selling of advertising.
  • Advertising Agency – a company that works with advertisers to create and manage campaigns to promote that advertiser’s product or service.
  • Data Aggregator – a company that pulls together information from multiple sources and builds ‘segments’ based on interests (eg car buyers).
  • Demand Side Platform – a company that allows advertisers to connect with web publishers.
  • Data Management Platform (DMP) –  a software platform used for collecting and managing data. They allow businesses to identify audience segments, which can be used to target specific users and contexts in online advertising campaigns.
  • Sell Side Platform – a company that works with web publishers to help maximise the money received from selling advertising on the publisher’s site.
  • Web Publisher – a company that promotes its content, often including products and services, via its website and, in this context, sells advertising on the site to help pay for them. An advertiser will have its own website and therefore will also be referred to as a web publisher.

Below you can see how all these companies work to deliver advertising.


How is my privacy protected?

The data on which interest-based advertising is delivered is based on your browsing activity. If this analysis infers a particular interest, a cookie – a small file used by most websites to store useful bits of information to make your use of the internet better – or similar technology (check out our jargon buster!), is placed in your computer. Through YourOnlineChoices, you can control you ad experience online. As you browse the web and visit different websites, you can control which non-essential (e.g. for advertising purposes) cookies you accept or refuse. This is done often through site notifications, and additionally through your browser settings. You can also visit this website – www.youronlinechoices.eu – to learn more about interest-based advertising and signal your preferences towards companies involved.

The company collecting and using the data will also have a way for you to decline interest-based advertising and the EU-wide good practice principles are specifically designed to give you more information and control over this type of advertising. We encourage all the relevant businesses to come together on this site so you have a one-stop-shop to better manage your online advertising experience. Click here to opt out of behavioural advertising. Remember: turning off interest-based advertising does NOT mean that there will be no more advertising on the internet. However, the advertising that you will see is likely to be less relevant to your interests.

What if I have other questions? Some useful links: