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AOL to let you opt out of ad cookies

AOL AOL has announced plans to let users opt out of targeted advertising. Right now AOL (which happens to be this blog's parent company) and many other web sites place cookies in your browser allowing the site to serve up targeted ads every time you visit an AOL web site.

By the end of the year, AOL plans to offer you the ability to opt out of targeted advertising. You'll still see advertising, but AOL won't be tracking your personal data. The company will also launch a public service campaign letting people know about their right to opt-out by placing banner ads on various pages.

Advocates of targeted advertising say the cookies make it easier for web publishers to serve up ads that readers will be most interested in by tracking browsing habits. That doesn't do much to ease the privacy concerns of people who read 1984 as a work of non-fiction.

The opt-out technology was developed by behavioral marketing firm Tacoda, which AOL purchased earlier this year. Somehow we didn't think AOL was buying a behavioral advertising firm in order to serve up less targeted ads. But the New York Times reports that while AOL will let users opt out, it will try to convince them that they should opt in. After all, if you're going to get ads anyway, wouldn't you rather they be for sales on your favorite movies, music, and other items?

Of course, the only way for AOL to know which computer users have opted out of targeted advertising is to place a cookie in your browser.

Tags: advertising, aol, cookies, e-commerce, marketing, tacoda