How to avoid pesky pop-up ads

ROANOKE, Va. – If you're seeing ads that seem to be based on your browsing history, you're not alone.

Those are called targeted ads, and Consumer Reports says instead of reaching a mass audience like TV commercials do, targeted ads allow advertisers to reach specific consumers.

"They're directed specifically at you and they're based on the things that companies think you may be interested in or maybe are more likely to buy," said Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports Tech Editor.

Consumer Reports says companies do this -in part- by keeping track of what you're searching for online. 

"Let's say you're shopping for sneakers on the internet. Companies are keeping track of the websites you visit and the things you're doing on digital products and sooner or later, you're going to see a sneaker ad," said Germian. 

If this feels like you're giving up too much of your privacy, Consumer Reports says there are ways to keep your online activity private. 

First, try using an ad blocker. Some popular options include AdBlock Plus and uBlock Origin. 

"You can also use private browsing mode on your browser -- which isn't a foolproof method but it will help protect you in some situations," said Germain. 

Private browsing mode works in part by deleting the browsing history on your computer after you close it. You can also consider using browsers like Brave and Firefox that have built-in ways to help stop targeted ads.