Advertising, Analytics, and PrivacyAdvertising is a core part of AOL's business. Many of our free Services, such as AOL.com, The Huffington Post, MapQuest, and TechCrunch are supported by the ads we display on those Services. We also provide a variety of online advertising services through the AOL Advertising Network to other companies that want to place ads on our Services and elsewhere.
The ads we display are more effective when they are shown to users who are likely to be interested in the product or service advertised. For this reason, we use the data we collect and receive to help us choose which ads to show to users. This page provides more information about how advertising works on our Services and the choices you have about that advertising. It also explains how we work with analytics providers, which are companies that help us understand how people use our Services and respond to the ads we serve.
The Ads We Show You
Through the AOL Advertising Network, we provide ads on our websites and apps, as well as on other companies' websites and apps. Some of the ads we show you are based on the content of the page or app you're viewing. These kinds of ads are sometimes called "contextual ads." An example of a contextual ad might be an ad on MapQuest for a gas station or hotel. MapQuest is a service people use when they drive places, so there's a good chance that users of MapQuest would be interested in an ad for discounted gas or hotel accommodations.
Other ads we show you may be based on information we have collected or received about your activities and interests. These ads are sometimes called "interest-based" ads. Some interest-based ads are based only on an isolated online activity, such as if you were to go to an online bookstore and look at a particular novel. The bookseller might want to show you an ad for that novel because you're probably more interested in buying it than the average online user. This kind of interest-based advertising is sometimes called "retargeting" or "remarketing."
Other interest-based ads are shown based on your online activities over time and across different websites. Advertising companies, including AOL, may collect information about your online activities in this way in order to make predictions about what products or services may be of interest to you. Based on these predictions, we and other companies may categorize you as belonging to a "segment" of users to which advertisers may be interested in showing ads. For example, if you've recently visited car dealers' websites, you might be grouped in a "Potential Car Buyers" segment. And a car dealer who places ads with AOL might want its ads to be shown to the users, like you, who are in this segment.
AOL is committed to complying with self-regulatory requirements for online advertising, including standards restricting the use of sensitive financial account number data and other types of sensitive data as defined by the Digital Advertising Alliance's Self-Regulatory Principles and the Network Advertising Initiative's Code of Conduct. For example, we do not use or allow others to use sensitive data to determine eligibility for health insurance, life insurance, or employment. We also do not target ads to users based on sensitive health data, including cancer, mental health-related conditions, and sexually-related areas.
If a user appears interested in non-sensitive, health-related topics, (such as, by visiting pages related to a topic) an ad relevant to those interests may be displayed. We may also display non-sensitive, health-related ads to users who we or our advertisers believe may be an appropriate audience for such topics. For example, a user who is of childbearing age or views several pages related to newborns and parenting might later be shown an ad for diapers. Similarly, a user who lives in an area with high prevalence of diabetes or high blood pressure, or who views content related to diabetes or high blood pressure might later be shown related ads. If you do not want to receive these interest-based ads from us when you use our Services, you can opt out.
The AdVisibility™ profile viewer allows you to see how the information we collect about your visits within the AOL Advertising Network are categorized into interest segments we use to select the ads displayed. You can also view a list of our Standard Categories. Please note the listed categories do not include custom categories, such as those created by a specific advertiser.
How We Use Data to Provide More Effective Advertising
As noted above, we use the data we collect or receive about users' online activities to help us show ads for products or services users are likely to be interested in. Please note that we retain certain information, such as IP addresses, for a limited time to aid in the targeting of ads, as well as for fraud detection and prevention. Data used to create segments for ad targeting is retained for no longer than 2 years. Other data (for example, data used to determine long-term or seasonal trends) may be retained for as long as AOL has a legitimate business reason for retaining it.
We also get data from other sources to help us provide more effective advertising. For example, we may use data that is available from public or commercial sources and combine it with other data we have collected or received about a user or the user's device.
Another way we use data to help display better ads is by analyzing the effectiveness of the ads we show. For example, we work with companies that provide services to us to determine whether users who saw or clicked on an ad later bought the item displayed in the ad (or took some other action the advertiser wanted them to take). We then provide statistical reports to our advertising customers that allows them to assess how effective a particular ad campaign was.
How We Work with Analytics Providers
Other Companies That Help Us Provide Effective Advertising
We work with a number of other companies that help us provide more effective advertising. These companies do things like help us deliver ads to people who are most likely to be interested in seeing them, keep track of the number of users who saw a particular ad or visited a particular page on one of our websites, and analyze the effectiveness of our ads. Click on the links below to learn more about these companies' practices and the choices they may offer in connection with advertising. We may update this list from time to time, so you should review this list periodically.
Please visit the Network Advertising Initiative and the Digital Advertising Alliance for additional information about online advertising where additional third-party providers may be listed.
The Choices You Have Regarding the Ads On Our Services
While it is not possible to turn off all advertising, you do have the ability to control whether you receive interest-based ads.
You can opt out of receiving interest-based ads from us when you browse the web by visiting the Digital Advertising Alliance's consumer choice page and selecting "AOL Advertising." Please note that your opt-out choice will apply only to the browser and device you are using when you opt out.
Please note that deleting the cookies in your browser may cancel the opt-out. The Digital Advertising Alliance offers Protect My Choices, which will ensure that your opt-out settings persist regardless of whether you delete your cookies.
You can make your opt-out choice apply to any browser and device you use while signed into AOL by adjusting your AOL Marketing Preferences.
You can learn how to opt-out of receiving mobile targeted ads from AOL at Mobile Device Choices.