Ad Choices


All About Ad Choices: What Is Ad Choices? How Does it Affect Advertisers & Consumers?

A few years ago, during Thanksgiving supper, one of my Friend relatives asked Them to explain what thieir job entails. Before they could launch into thier SEM elevator pitch, one of my aunts jumped in and said something to the effect of “She taps into people’s privacy and harasses them with ads online.” Sure, she made the comment in jest, but I think many people share this misconception.

If you work in the search marketing industry, you’ve probably had a similar experience at one point or another. So it’s probably a good idea to familiarize yourself with the privacy issues in online advertising. This post will provide a deep dive into Ad Choices, a program designed to protect internet users’ privacy and give them control over their internet usage data.

This should arm you with all the information you need next time you find yourself defending the digital marketing space.

How to Get Rid of Ad Choices

First, a quick note on disambiguation: “Ad Choices” is also the name of an adware or spyware program that can change your personal browser preferences and cause pop-up ads to display on your desktop. If you’re looking to block Ad Choices or remove Ad Choices from your computer, try one of these resources:

You can also try installing an ad blocker program like like Ad Block for Chrome:

History of the Ad Choices Program

Long gone are the “wild west” days of the internet. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission began investigating advertising platforms that collect consumer data to use for advertising purposes. The FTC recognized a need for stricter regulations to protect consumers’ privacy rights, but instead of implementing these rules directly, it tasked industry leaders to develop a self-regulatory program. The goal of this program was simple—empower internet users to manage their own data and have more control over the ads they are shown.

The FTC’s decision was a golden opportunity for online advertisers. Rather than falling subject to heavy government regulation, they were offered a chance to define the terms of the regulations on their own. Industry leaders, such as the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the Four As), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) joined forces and established the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising.

The Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising implemented some major changes in the digital marketing landscape, including the inception of the Ad Choices program.

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Basic Requirements of the Ad Choices Program

So, what does this program entail? It’s actually quite simple. Ad Choices encourages online advertising platforms to include an advertising option icon on any ads or web pages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising. The good news for advertisers is that this icon is fairly small and unobtrusive; most consumers don’t even notice it. If they scroll over it, a link labeled “Ad Choices” will appear.

When a user clicks the icon, Ad Choices triggers a pop-up that provides the consumer with more information, as well as the opportunity to opt out of interest-based ads. The format for this message varies, depending on the ad platform. Here’s an example of the message that appeared when I clicked on the Ad Choices icon in the image ad above.

Google’s Take on the Ad Choices Program

Google prides itself on its user-centric advertising approach. In fact, I think Google can credit its success with online advertising to this customer-centric strategy. Therefore, it should not be surprising to hear that Google is a huge proponent of the Ad Choices program. When the official Ad Choices icon was rolled out in 2011, Google was one of the first advertising platforms to implement it. When the change went live, this quote was published on the Inside Ad Sense blog: “We hope to show our support for this cross-industry initiative, and to increase our users’ understanding about ad choices through adoption of an icon they’ll see on ads across the web.”

Not only has Google implemented the basic requirements of Ad Choices, it’s gone a few steps further. Here are a few “bells and whistles” that Google implemented to ensure users have increased control over the ads they are served:

Ad Preferences Manager

You can access your Ad Preference Manager by clicking on the Ad Choices icon or heading to this link (be sure you’re logged into the right Google account). This gives you full access to the profile Google has created for you. You can see an excerpt from mine above. Google pretty much nailed it on the basics, but they missed the mark on the interests section. Luckily, I have the opportunity to edit this and to increase the likelihood of seeing ads that are suited to my real interests.

This page also gives me the option to opt out of all interest-based ads, an appealing option for anyone concerned with protecting their privacy. This feature is particularly useful in the case of remarketing ads, which allow advertisers to “follow” past site visitors with their ads. Danny Sullivan wrote a great piece explaining how remarketing ruined Christmas in his household, because his family knew where he’d been shopping for their gifts online. This opt-out is an easy way to prevent a similar fiasco next year.

“Mute This Ad” Button

Google introduced the “mute this ad” concept last summer to provide another level of control to users. The button typically appears alongside the Ad Choice icon and, when the user clicks on it, they will no longer be served ads from that campaign.

In-Ad Surveys

Google’s latest brainchild, in-ad surveys, is set to be released in the coming weeks. These short, two-part surveys will appear any time an ad is muted, to better understand the user’s motivations for muting the ad. Not only will this program allow Google to gather additional data, it also shows users that Google is committed to improving their experience.

Ad Choices’ Impact on Advertisers

The Ad Choices policy itself has a fairly minimal impact on advertisers. However, when Ad Choices is paired with options like the Ad Preference Manager or in-ad surveys, consumers are encouraged to provide useful information regarding the ads they want to see. On a high level, this is beneficial to advertisers because it allows Google to create more precise interest groups. However, I’d love to see Google go the extra mile and offer additional information to advertisers.

Sharing information gleaned from muted ads could be a game changer for PPC advertisers. Consider the in-ad survey example above. Analyzing the results from this would allow advertisers to understand whether their ads simply aren’t resonating with their audience, or if they are too repetitive. Armed with this information, they will know when they need to create fresh ads or adjust their ad delivery settings.

Key Takeaways

  • Ad Choices is a self-regulatory program that encourages online advertising platforms to include an advertising option icon on any ads or web pages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising.
  • Google embraces user choice, and has introduced additional Ad Choices options including Ad Preferences Manager, “Mute This Ad,” and in-ad surveys.
  • This is great for Google, but what about advertisers? In an ideal world Google would share this data and insight with advertisers so we can improve our ads, both in terms of quality and ad delivery settings.

As an advertiser, would you want access to Google’s survey data? If so, how might you use it to improve your account? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!


Our computer security expert showing the logo of Ad Choices. In the background, you can see a screenshot of a website that displays Ad Choices ads.

Ways to block excessive advertising

If you have been coming across suspicious ads while visiting your favorite websites (Youtube, Facebook, Google, etc.), you should think what free application have you recently installed on your computer. It may be that you have been using a wrong way to install freeware and shareware on your computer what means that you have been allowing installation of commercial components (browser add-ons, extensions, plugins, toolbars, etc.) on it.

To get the ability to see all optional components that are hiding in the freeware, you should select Custom or Advanced installation option. Also, make sure you uncheck all check marks that claim that you want to install browser add-ons, extensions, plugins, toolbars and similar components. However, if you have rushed software installation, now you have to solve this issue. Follow a simple removal guide presented at the end of the article. French-speaking users are advised to head to Les for instructions in their native language

Speaking of the Ad Choices, some users have expressed complaints that they cannot get rid of these ads even when using Ad Block Plus. This software has a white list feature that allows certain ads to reach the users. In case you came here to find a solution to “ad block not blocking ad choices” problem, you should do the following:

  1. Find the Ad Block product in your browser’s Extensions/Add-ons list.
  2. Click on Options/Preferences next to the extension and deselect the Allow non-intrusive advertising option.

Frequently asked questions

Question. Surprisingly this morning I’ve found all my web browsers full of Ad Choice virus ads. I assume I’ve run into some PC infection somehow and now need help since those ads are driving my crazy. Searching for help, I got nothing very helpful, except several YouTube videos on how to remove Ad Choices ads, but none of them has helped. Could you please help?

Answer. Yes, apparently, if you have found ads labeled something like ‘Ads by Ad Choices’ during browsing, then you have installed the related component on your machine. To remove Ad Choices, you should use a guide that is given down below. After doing so, we recommend scanning the computer with Stop zilla because this way you will ensure your computer is totally safe and free of potentially unwanted programs, malware, file leftovers, and so on. Good luck!

Question. I also have these Ad Choices ads on my Firefox web browser. I updated everything possible, installed several Malware Removal programs, and they did not find any of these Ad Choices. What else can I do to get rid of this irritating app?

Answer. Ad choices is not a virus, so if you want to get rid of this program, you should follow a guide given below.

Question. Hello. I have one question related to online ads. Sometimes I get confused by them. Recently I’ve noticed that when browsing with Chrome, Opera, and Firefox some words are highlighted and brings up an ad when I hover the mouse over them. Most of them are marked as ‘Ads by Ad Choices’. Could you please tell me whether they indicate some infection or is that just normal?

Answer. Hello. The answer is simple – seeing Ad Choices advertisements is certainly NOT a dangerous thing but if they have been bothering you then you should think what commercial program have you recently installed on your computer. The easiest and the most reliable way to get rid of it is to follow manual removal guidelines that are given below.

Question. I’ve recently downloaded Java and Flash Player updates. It seems that by doing so I’ve caught something because each of my web browsers has started generating tons of ads powered by Ad Choices. What should I do to stop this happening?

Answer. Technically, Ad Choices is not a virus. It’s rather an advertising tool, which tends to cause different kinds of ads. In this case, we recommend you to follow manual removal guide that is given down below and fix your computer.

Question. I don’t understand what’s the matter with my computer or with me sin ceads constantly show up on my computer. This time, I’m dealing with Ad Choices but cannot get rid of its no matter what I try. Please help!

Answer. It’s interesting what actions did you take to remove Ad Choices ads. Technically, this program is not a virus, so that you can use a guide below.

Remove Ad Choices ads from websites you visit

If you have been looking for Ad Choices removal tool, you should understand that you need to find and uninstall related browser add-ons and extensions from each of your browsers. Carefully follow our step-by-step guide bellow. Make sure that you eliminate all suspicious components.

After doing so, we think that you should run a full system scan with updated anti-spyware to make sure that your computer is totally safe, and there are no programs that are considered unsafe. If you have difficulties in locating and eliminating these entries, you should launch automatic removal.

To remove Ad Choices ads automatically, you have to employ professional malware removal program.


You can remove Ad Choices automatically with a help of one of these programs: Reimage, Plumbytes Anti-Malware, Malwarebytes Anti Malware. We recommend these applications because they can easily delete potentially unwanted programs and viruses with all their files and registry entries that are related to them.


Facts about AdChoices ads and reasons why you see them daily

Ad Choices is a legitimate online advertising service It helps third parties to promote their products or services and reach potential customers using targeted and personalized ads. However, for a while computer users have been complaining about an increased amount of ads by Ad Choices and asking for help to remove them.

Various types of advertisements are following on every website and web page, but complaints start only when the browsing experience is reduced. Users claim that browsing the Internet becomes unbearable because of pop-ups, banners, and in-text ads appeared on their browsers. Frustrated users even call it “Ad Choices virus”; however, we have to stress out it’s NOT a virus.

It’s a legitimate online advertising method that normally does not bother Internet users at all. An excessive amount of ads starts appearing when users accidentally install particular add-on or adware program. These applications are responsible for delivering commercial content and spread bundled with free software. Therefore, inattentive computer users usually install some program that floods their browsers with Ad Choices ads.

These programs might sneak into both Mac and Windows operating systems, so they can affect all popular web browsers. Once you notice an increased amount of ads, scan your computer with a reputable anti-malware program, such as Reimage or Plum bytes Anti-Malware, and remove Ad Choices pop-ups.

Personalized advertisements are delivered based on users’ preferences and needs. Tracking cookies help to learn more about users by monitoring their browsing and search history. According to Ad Choices Privacy Policy, they may collect various information and even share it with third party companies:

“Personal information you knowingly choose to disclose to us such as your name, mailing address, and email address. You may provide this information when you make requests for information or assistance; Non-personal information including but not limited to browser type, IP address, operating system, the date and time of a visit, the pages visited on this Site, the time spent viewing the Site, and return visits to the Site; We may also collect aggregated information as you and others browse our Site.”

Ad Choices ads might offer useful and reliable products or services; however, they might be dangerous as well. Some ads may redirect you to malicious websites that are created for spreading malware, viruses or install tracking cookies and try to steal your private information. Keep in mind that Ad Choices doesn’t take any responsibility for the trustworthiness of these sites. Here is a sentence from its Terms of Use: