How to stop retargeting

Ruth C. | October 22, 2020

Retargeting is a digital beast that continuously preys on potential customers. Businesses reach for conversions by periodically reminding interested consumers of their existence. After all, first-time visitors rarely purchase goods. Thus, remarketing reveals its claws by triggering ads based on users’ online behavior. It grabs customers’ initial interest and attempts to convince them to return. However, some customers find retargeting as intrusive, annoying, and outright harassing. So, it hovers somewhere between stalking and useful product recommendation.

The core of retargeting: chasing clients around the web

Retargeting (or remarketing) is the practice of revisiting potential clients via online ads. The relevant messages hope to captivate audiences and remind them of previous encounters with products or services. Digital marketers view retargeting as one of the most productive and cost-effective strategies. Businesses can reach interested parties that abandoned their carts, scrolled through product listings, or visited landing pages.

Such consumers expressed an active interest in products or services. This initial curiosity is the central focus point for marketers. After all, users familiar with products or brands are more likely to convert than someone with no knowledge about them. One survey revealed that 58.6% of US consumers had performed the so-called cart abandonment. This notion means that clients packed their shopping carts but left the store without purchasing anything. Retargeting helps to scoop all these hesitant clients.

Consumers view retargeting from two angles. It might be that some shoppers appreciate reminders of relevant companies they previously visited. However, everything has its limitations. According to users’ opinions, the frequency of the ad generation plays a vital role in its treatment. An ad that you see for the tenth time is more likely to be annoying. Also, advertisers’ knowledge of clients might trigger discomfort. People might not tolerate ads reflecting their locations, incomes, browsing habits, home addresses, phone numbers, and last online purchases. Hence, 60% of clients remove cookies to stop continuous retargeting.

Google also plans to end third-party cookies in Chrome, from ideas like FLOC to Topics API.

How does retargeting work?

Retargeting relies on cookies and can happen on various channels: from random websites to social media platforms. Cookies are short pieces of JavaScript code (also referred to as pixels). They work on the internet browser level and log consumer behavior online. When you visit a website, a unique cookie labels you with an identifier code. The cookie is a vital component of retargeting since it profiles consumers according to their behaviors, interests, and demographics. This tracking helps marketers fuel consumers’ existing interest and convince them to convert.

Nevertheless, cookie-based advertising might be near its final chapter. Google’s announcement to block third-party cookies on Chrome by 2022 is one of the fatal blows. The change will radically transform the way marketers implement retargeting and other advertising strategies. An important distinction here is that first-party cookies will remain intact. They preserve user data on a specific website and are crucial for remembering basic client information such as passwords. However, marketers won’t have the chance to scoop users’ behavior on other websites.

How to stop retargeting now?

Consumers have some options to sustain a tracking-free lifestyle. Retargeting is not the only skeleton in the closet, however. Advertisers get creative, especially when the farewell to third-party cookies is near. Here are the main options for you if you wish to embark on a less monitored browsing journey.

  • Incognito Mode. Browsers’ private mode serves people who are against having their online actions logged. How does Incognito Mode prevent retargeting? Well, browsers won’t receive cookies from the domains you visit through the private window. However, incognito won’t prevent IP-based tracking and will allow ISPs or employers to review your activities.
  • Remove browser data. Clearing cache helps get rid of any residue attached to your browser. But while it will remove all cookies, the process will also eliminate browsing histories, saved passwords, and preferred websites.
  • Use a privacy-focused browser. Some browsers treat privacy as a priority, reduce the amount of collected information, and block third-party cookies. Tor and Brave are one of the dominant browsers when it comes to preventing retargeting.
  • Get a VPN. Retargeting can be intrusive and rather unpleasant. However, there is a wide range of options for online entities to track your preferences and behavior. If you prefer a more anonymous approach, Atlas VPN is the solution. Marketers’ strategies won’t diminish your privacy, and you won’t have to worry about similarly invasive actions.

Change cookie settings on browsers to stop retargeting


  1. Navigate to “Settings” through the main menu at the top right corner and select “Privacy and security.”

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  1. Pick “Cookies and other site data.”

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  1. You will see various options. Opt for “Block third-party cookies” to ensure that they won’t affect your browsing. The default settings prevent them in Incognito Mode.

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  1. It is possible to add domains as exceptions. Find “Sites that can always use cookies” in the same “Cookies and other site data” section. Click “Add.”

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  1. By inserting [*.] before the website name, you will allow retargeting for the entire site.


  1. Click the menu button and choose “Preferences.”
  2. Move to “Privacy & Security.”

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  1. The “Enhanced Tracking Protection” panel will appear.

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  1. Click on the “Custom” option to modify these settings.
  2. Find the “Cookies” section and choose the appropriate setting. You might block all third-party cookies. However, this might have side effects on some websites.

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  1. If you want to enable third-party cookies for specific domains, you can click on the shield icon next to the URL bar. Toggle the switch to turn off the cookie block and allow retargeting. The same steps apply if you want to disable cookies again.

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  1. Choose “Safari” and navigate to “Preferences.”

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  1. Click “Privacy.” There are several options. You can opt for “Prevent cross-site tracking.” This option stops trackers from employing cookies and website data to track you. Blocking all cookies might not be efficient, as it will also prevent first-party cookies.

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Ruth C.

Ruth C.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.



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