How does the BBC use cookies for advertising?

Page updated: 15 January 2020

The BBC shows advertising on its website and apps to users outside the UK. We use the income to help fund BBC services, including making these services available to international audiences.

We try our best, using sophisticated technology, to make sure that the advertising is only visible to people outside the UK, but if you are viewing the website from the UK and you can see advertising, please use this form to let us know.

If you've seen what you believe to be inappropriate advertising on our online services, please read this FAQ for advice.

How are the ads shown to me personalised?

If you are in the UK and using the Licence Fee funded website and apps, these services do not contain advertising and your data will not be used for advertising purposes.

If you are using our services outside the UK, or you are using another commercially funded BBC website or app, the ads you see may be personalised based on information that has been inferred about you and your interests. Personalising ads helps us to show you fewer, more relevant ads. It also means we can receive more revenue from our advertisers, allowing us to invest more in great content.

We will also show you ads relevant to the content you viewing. For example if you are reading an article about travel then we might show you ads for airlines. This is called contextual advertising.

The personalisation of ads may be based on information, referred to as “data”, collected about your use of our services (e.g. what articles you read) and other data attributed to you by the advertiser or a data specialist – such as your interests, age, gender and similar statistical characteristics (demographics) inferred from your internet browsing or marketing data that an advertiser holds about you. We may also use your general location to show you ads relevant to where you are, so if you are in the US you will see ads from US advertisers.

To create an ad profile for personalisation, unique identifiers (IDs) are used to tell your device apart from others – such as an ID stored by a cookie, or your Mobile Ad ID (a unique code set by your mobile operating system). You can opt-out from these IDs being used for ad personalisation; advice on how to do this is provided below.

Data that directly identifies you, such as your name, email address or mobile number, will not be used for advertising purposes in your browser or app settings.

Do other companies use cookies, and similar technologies, on your services for advertising purposes?

We and our advertisers work with a range of other companies (“Advertising Partners”) to show you ads, both personalised and non-personalised. This includes the advertisers’ agencies, specialist technology platforms that help us with the sale of our ad space and delivery of the ads, as well as data management platforms that help with analysis and sorting of the data needed to personalise ads. We also work with specialists to make sure real people are seeing ads, and to make sure our website is safe.

The cookies sent with the ads by us and Advertising Partners make personalised advertising possible. They also enable advertisers to monitor the effectiveness of their ads.

Advertising Partners may also use cookies they dropped on your device when you were browsing other websites. This helps them to show you ads for things that might be relevant to your interests based on what you looked at on other websites. They also do this to see whether you have already seen a particular ad and to limit how many of their ads you see across the internet. And if you take part in market research, the research company can record that you have seen a particular ad.

They may also use data they collect from other sources, or infer from your browsing of other websites, to decide what type of ad might interest you. They may use a technology known as cookie syncing to do this. It works by matching the cookie ID assigned to you with another cookie ID held in another company’s database (which is likely to be attributable to you). That cookie may have certain interests and other population statistics information attributed to it.

We and our Advertising Partners will also use your device IP address when selecting and delivering advertising to you. This is a numerical address allocated to your device by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) which acts like a postal address in that it allows websites to know where to send their content to you. Your IP address may be static (i.e. remain the same each day) but is more likely to be dynamic, meaning it changes frequently (usually every 24 hours). It may also be used to determine your broad location (e.g. what country you are in).

Am I tracked across my devices for advertising purposes?

Any company that has dropped a cookie on your device can track your online browsing activity. We and our Advertising Partners may attempt to match your browsing activity on one device, such as your laptop, with your browsing activity on another device, such as your smartphone, so that we can limit the number of times you see a particular ad (across your devices) and to personalise the advertising we show you.

To do this we may use data, such as your browsing patterns, geo-location and mobile Ad ID and match it with other information about the browser and devices that you appear to use.

Is data from other sources used to personalise advertising?

As explained above, we and our Advertising Partners may use interest and statistical characteristic (demographic) data from data specialists to help us to better predict what might interest you. Advertisers might also use their own marketing data to show you ads on our online services. This means you may see ads based on things you’ve viewed on other websites and other information they have collected about you.

Do you personalise advertising shown to me on non-BBC services?

Sometimes we buy ad space on other websites and services to run ads for our advertisers. For example, we might show you an ad before a BBC News video on our social media channels. That ad could be personalised in the same way as when you use our services.

Where can I find out more about how ad personalisation works?

The advertising industry has developed a number of consumer and business initiatives in Europe, the US and other regions, including those listed below. These initiatives require participating members (which may include our Advertising Partners) to comply with a self-regulatory framework, which set out best practice principles, consumer guides, and opt-out tools.

European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA)
Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA)
Network Advertising Initiative (NAI)

How do you manage the Advertising Partners operating on your services?

We do our best to protect our users’ data and ensure it is used in accordance with our policies. For example, we work with Advertising Partners that actively participate in recognised self-regulatory frameworks (such as the EDAA, DAA or NAI). We also place contractual limits on how data collected about people using our services is used. And we regularly audit our site to look for malware and unsafe cookies.

We check every Advertising Partner we work with directly to ensure that it will handle your data responsibly. We list our contracted Advertising Partners below. The data they collect may also be subject to their privacy policies (click on the Advertising Partner below name to access their privacy policy). You can read their privacy policies to find out more about how they use your data. You can also opt-out from them using your data for ad personalisation purposes.

Who are your contracted Advertising Partners?

Ad serving, ad trading and ad personalisation
Google Ad Manager and Google Ads
Amazon (ex-EEA only)
Index Exchange
Juice Mobile (Canada only)
Rubicon Project
Teads (ex-EEA only)
Telaria (ex-EEA only)

Data management, audience segmentation & cross device tracking

In-email advertising

Personalised content recommendations

These Advertising Partners may also drop other cookies (controlled by other companies) on your device from time to time to show you personalised ads and to measure your response to that ad, for example to see if you click on the ad, or to limit the number of times you see it. This is done to show you ads that are more relevant to you. You can delete these cookies on your device by changing your browser settings. You can learn how to do that below. However, any changes you make might affect your experience on the advertiser’s site.

How can I opt-out from ad personalisation?

If at any time you do not want information about your data, such as your cookie ID and browsing behaviour, to be used for personalised advertising on our websites/apps, you can "opt out" or change your browser settings. You can learn how to do this below. If you opt-out or make any changes to your browser settings, you will continue to see ads that may be less relevant to you. Some data, such as your cookie ID and IP address, will be used to show you a non-personalised ad even if you opt-out. This is to measure the effectiveness of (non-personalised) ads, to limit how many times you see an ad, and to make sure humans, not robots, are seeing the ad.

BBC Cookie Settings

You can opt-out from the use of your data by us and most of our advertising partners to personalise advertising using the BBC Cookie Settings.

Advertising Partners not controlled by the BBC Cookies setting

From time to time, we may work with Advertising Partners for which you cannot use the BBC Cookies Setting to opt-out from. However, you can still opt-out from them using your data by visiting their privacy policy and following the instructions contained in this. As at the date of this document, you cannot opt-out of these advertising partners:

Juice Mobile

Ad Choices tools for web browsers

You can opt-out of personalised advertising on our websites and more generally across the internet using the opt-out tools provided by ad industry bodies, including those set out below. Not all advertisers and Advertising Partners are part of this. But you still use your browser settings as further explained below.

European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance (EDAA)
Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA)
Network Advertising Initiative (NAI)

Change your browser settings

You can also prevent your cookie ID and browsing data being tracked and used for personalised advertising purposes by changing your browser settings, browsing in ‘private mode’ or by using browser add-ons available on the internet. Visit the relevant support page for your browser, or use the help function on your browse, to learn more:

Apple Safari
Google Chrome
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Mozilla Firefox
Opera browser

Change your mobile device settings

Mobile apps don’t use cookies. Instead, different technologies recognise your device and collect information about your app browsing to show you personalised ads. This technology makes use of your “Mobile Advertising ID”, which is randomly generated by your mobile operating system. Typical IDs are AdID (Android) and IDFA (Apple). Follow the instructions below to reset or turn off this ID.

Apple iOS
1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Advertising.
2. Turn on Limit Ad Tracking.
Visit the Apple support page for more information.

Google Android
1. Go to Settings.
2. Select Google in the Accounts section.
3. Select Ads in the Privacy section.
4. Tick Opt out of interest based ads.
Visit the Google support page for more information.

Microsoft Windows
1. Go to Settings.
2. Tap on Privacy.
3. Tap on Advertising ID, and turn off Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps
Visit the Microsoft support page for more information.

Contact us

Please contact our Data Protection team if you would like more help.

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