New rules overseen by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) come into effect today that aim to provide more control over online behavioural advertising (OBA).

OBA is a method used to target advertising. Information is gathered via your Web browser about your viewing behaviour and it is then used to serve up ads that are supposed to be more interesting to you, based on your habits.

So for example, if you’ve been browsing online stores for a pair of jeans, adverts from those stores will turn up on other sites to remind you that you had been looking in the hope that you will return and do your shopping.

The ASA has some clear guidance and information about OBA in a guide that you can find here. It covers the basics along with settings and cookie consent.

The new rules mean that ad networks that deliver these kinds of ads need to make clear that they are doing so. According to the ASA, this would most likely appear as an icon in the corner of online ads.

Advertising networks must also let consumers control whether or not they see targeted ads by providing an opt-out tool so that people can easily turn them off.

If consumers choose to opt-out of receiving this kind of advertising, but it continues, the ASA will take action on their behalf. The Information Commissioner is responsible for looking into complaints about consent and the placement of cookies on browsers.

Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker says: “The new rules will provide greater awareness of and control over OBA, demystifying how advertisers deliver more relevant ads to us and allowing those of us who object to say “stop”. We’ll be there to make sure that the ad networks stick to the rules.”

There are existing ad blockers of course. Mozilla offers TACO the Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-Out, Chrome offers ‘Keep my Opt-Outs’ as an extension and if you use Internet Explorer, it’s worth checking the Internet User Privacy settings to suit your tastes.

Sadly the Chrome Adblock that replaced ads with pictures of cats for April Fools day last year is no longer available.

Image Credit: Anniemole / Flickr