How to figure out what you’re getting for Christmas

For many of us, Christmas shopping is not a pleasurable experience. Finding time to visit shops and balance work and everyday life can be inconvenient, the chaotic shopping malls and crowded carparks are painstakingly stressful and the relentless traipsing from shop to shop is gruellingly arduous and unsatisfying.

n light of the above, there is no surprise that many of us take to the internet to shop in comfort and allow our fingers to do the leg-work, so to speak. In fact, according to, 73% of us in the UK used the internet for some of their Christmas shopping in 2014.


However, with more advanced online marketing and customer classification, web-based ad applications, such as Google AdSense and AdChoice, are able to target and re-target potential customers more effectively with “interest-based advertisements” served in relation to their browsing history.

At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with Christmas presents, right?

For those who use a communal computer or tablet, interest-based advertisements may appear on social media newsfeeds, popular article-based websites and search engines related to another family member’s browsing session. Here’s an example of how a sponsored post may look like on Facebook.

If they have been surfing for potential Christmas presents or have even made some purchases, related advertisements will gradually filter through and will be visible on participating platforms. No invasion of privacy is required; you will not have to check their internet history, email confirmation or order history. The suggestions will simply appear in front of you as if by magic; it is almost as if the internet wants you to know what you are getting for Christmas.


Present Seeker

If you are actively trying to figure out what you may be getting for Christmas, try and follow the below guidelines as best you can:

  • Log onto the computer as soon as the buyer has finished with their session for best results
  • Do not perform searches for products before investigating
  • Use a private or incognito browser for your own surfing requirements to keep the ad feed relevant
  • Actively browse websites which heavily rely on advertising networks such as social media, steaming websites and news/article based sites.

Present Buyer

  • Set up different user accounts so that you can browse in peace
  • Do not use a communal device for Christmas shopping, use a personal device
  • Use a private or incognito browser when looking for products
  • Do not accept website cookies and clearing all private data (browsing history, cache, cookies, offline website data etc.)
  • Do not leave your Google Account logged in
  • Have a bit of fun? Perform some unrelated searches to throw any Present Detectives off the trail


Here are some examples of advertisements which appeared on our computer after a colleague had been using it. As well as helping you figure out what you may be getting for Christmas, this technique could also be used to help decide what to buy someone if you are really struggling with ideas.





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