Tablet Life & Arts

Ask Mr. Modem: Targeted advertising on websites is all about location, location, location

I live in Baltimore. When I go to a website, advertising will often appear that includes references to Baltimore. How do the ads know where I’m located?

Creepy, isn’t it? There are three primary ways this can happen: 1. You inadvertently (or perhaps vertently) provided that information. This is the most obvious way and the one that we most often overlook. If you have ever registered on a website or purchased anything from a website, dollars to donuts you had to provide your mailing address or city, state and postal code.

That’s information that the website (and possibly other sites operated by the same entity or entities) can then use to customize your experience when visiting one of their sites. That customization can include local news, weather and yes, even intrusive advertising.

2. Your ISP (Internet service provider) spilled the beans. It is nearly impossible to determine the specific location of a computer based on its IP (Internet protocol) address because publicly available information about IP addresses only resolve down to the ISP that assigned it.

For many advertisers, all they need is the location of your ISP. So even if you are outside of your ISP’s primary area, some advertisers use geo-targeting based on the IP address resolved to the ISP’s greater metropolitan area. Along this same line, they can also get it wrong, which is why you may sometimes see ads applicable to areas unrelated to your location.

3. Facebook blabbed. Realistically, this could apply to any service or social media platform that includes geo-location information and applies equally to Apple, Microsoft, Google and others. This information can be collected from Wi-Fi hotspots and also from mobile devices that include GPS.

It should come as no surprise that GPS-enabled devices have the ability to determine exactly where you are.

When information from these devices is associated with your Apple, Microsoft, Facebook or Google account, that information can be correlated with your Internet access through your ISP.

That information is shared with advertising networks (for a price), which then display ads that relate specifically to your location.

I went to delete a file and it deleted without asking for confirmation. Do you know why it would do this?

It sounds like your Recycle Bin settings may have been changed, but it’s easy to get them back on track: Right-click your Recycle Bin and select Properties. Select the Global tab, which will encompass all hard drives.

Click to place a check mark in the box next to Display Delete Confirmation dialog, followed by Apply > OK. The next time you delete a file, you will be prompted to confirm the deletion.