How does the BBC use cookies for commercial purposes (outside the UK)?

Updated: 14 September 2023

If you access the BBC website or the BBC News and Sport Apps from outside the UK (the “International Services”), you will see commercial advertising, content recommendations, and advertiser microsites (“Ads”). Ads enable us to generate income to help fund BBC services and make them available to you outside the UK.

If you are in the UK and you can see Ads, or if you’re outside the UK and you've seen what you believe to be inappropriate Ads on the International Services, please read this FAQ for advice. Alternatively, you can contact BBC Studios (who are responsible for the advertising) via:

Advertising on International Services

BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the BBC, is responsible for the Ads you see on the International Services.  Depending on your cookie and data settings, some of these Ads may be personalised based on information known or inferred about you and your interests.  This personalisation helps us to show you 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 are consuming (contextual advertising).  For example, if you are reading an article about travel then we might show you Ads for airlines.

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 by following the instructions below.

Broadly speaking, our advertising is managed in two ways:

1. In-house with the help of contracted data processors

Our premium advertising is managed in-house using a platform provided by Permutive, a specialist privacy-centric advertising platform.  The platform is driven by our own “first party” data that we have collected from you or your device.  This data includes registration information collected when you sign-up for our services (e.g. BBC Account), data based on what you consume when using our services (e.g. articles read, adverts clicked on), technographic information (e.g. browser, device and Internet Service Provider) and your location (at a country level).  We then use this data to put you into cohorts with other users with shared characteristics (age, interests). These cohorts are then used to select relevant Ads to show to you.

We sometimes work directly with our advertiser clients to enable them to use their own customer data to personalise their Ads.  They may do this by matching data to known customers or to look for ‘lookalike’ customers based on similar characteristics.  When we do this, we use specialist technologies to keep data separated and secure, and we do not directly share or enrich our own data sets via this process.

We also work with specialists to make sure real people (not bots) are seeing Ads, and to make sure our website is safe.

We do not share your registration data or “cohorts” with advertisers or anyone else (except our contracted suppliers who process data under our instruction).

2.  Automated advertising trading and personalisation

We and our advertisers also work with a range of advertising and data companies (“Advertising Vendors”) to show you Ads, both personalised and non-personalised. This includes specialist platforms and networks to: sell our ad space in online auctions, select and deliver the Ads, and collate and manage the data needed to personalise Ads. Generally, these companies will be acting as separate data controllers or may be acting under the instruction of their advertiser client rather than us.

Advertising Vendors will use data shared by your device alongside profile data inferred from your internet browsing and marketing information that they may hold about you. See FAQs 1 & 2 for more.

Ad Personalisation Settings

You can manage your cookies and the use of your data for personalised advertising here, or by clicking on the Do not share or sell my info link in the footer of every page on You can also opt-out by changing your browser or device settings. You can learn how to do this in FAQ 7 below.

If you opt-out or make any changes to your browser settings, you may continue to see non-personalised and contextual Ads. We may use your IP address to deliver these Ads, to measure their effectiveness, to limit how many times you see an ad, and to make sure humans, not robots, are seeing the ad.

If you are in the EEA, when you first accessed the International Services, we will have asked your permission to use cookies and data for commercial purposes. We will automatically refresh this permission every 12 months or sooner if (i) we add new Advertising Vendors to the services, (ii) you or your browser delete the cookie which stores your preference or (iii) on occasion when we are required to update our technology or technology provider.

BBC Account Personalisation Setting

Signed in users can also opt out of the use of registration data for advertising purposes by turning off personalisation in their Account settings, here:



The following data may be shared when Ads are requested and delivered by the International Services:

  • IP address*
  • Cookie IDs or Mobile Ad ID**
  • Page URL
  • Device manufacturer, model and operating system
  • Browser type and version and preferences

Our own in-house advertising will also use your registration data and browsing behaviour on the International Services to attribute interests and characteristics to you.

In addition, advertising delivered via our Advertising Vendors will also include the use of data that has been collated and synced across multiple sites and sources. This may include the advertiser’s own marketing database, demographics (e.g. from data brokers and credit reference agencies), online cross-site browsing behaviour, social media data, and offline data (e.g. loyalty card and retail transactions).

* Your IP Address is a number allocated to your device by your Internet Service Provider that enables websites to know where to send their content to you. Usually this is a dynamic number that changes frequently (e.g. every 24 hours) unless you have requested a static IP Address.

**Your Mobile Ad ID is a random, alphanumeric identifier generated by your device manufacturer. Mobile apps do not use cookies and will use this identifier in its place.  You can reset it or turn it off in your device settings. 

As explained, we and our advertisers work with a range of Advertising Vendors to show you Ads, both personalised and non-personalised. This includes specialist platforms and networks to: sell our ad space in online auctions, select and deliver the Ads and collate and manage 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.

Advertising Vendors may also use cookies they dropped on your device when you were browsing other (non-BBC) 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.

The cookies (or equivalent ID) and data sent with the Ads make personalised advertising possible. They also enable advertisers to monitor the effectiveness of their Ads.

Advertising Vendors may work together to share data so that they can better personalise their Ads.  To do this, they use a technology known as cookie syncing which works by cross-matching a cookie ID assigned to you by vendor A with a cookie ID held in vendor B’s database. That cookie may have certain interests and demographical information attributed to it, which is then shared with vendor A.

Advertising Vendor Management

We do our best to protect our users’ data and ensure it is used in accordance with our policies. For example, we aim to work with Advertising Vendors that actively participate in recognised self-regulatory frameworks (such as the EDAADAA 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 contract with a number of Advertising Vendors to deliver advertising across our International Services.   These companies are separately responsible for the data they collect and use about you; they are separate “data controllers”. 

We also allow pre-approved specialist companies to use cookies or pixels for limited purposes on behalf of our advertisers. We check these specialist companies meet our quality standards before we place them on our pre-approved list; access the list of these specialist companies.

The vendors active on our site can change from time-to-time. Please check the list of third parties in the Commercial Cookie Settings platform.

Advertising exchanges and personalisation

Podcast in-stream advertising

Email advertising

Personalised content recommendations

Ad performance, measurement and fraud

We also work with a company called Permutive for our in-house data management and Ads personalisation. Permutive is operating in the capacity of a data processor and does not use data for their own purposes.

Any company that has dropped a cookie on your device can track your online browsing activity. We and our Advertising Vendors 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 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.

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 the International Services.

We may also run Ads in the podcasts we publish on a variety of different platforms, eg Spotify, Audible and Apple Podcasts. Subject to applicable law, we may allow third parties such as our service providers and those of our advertisers to collect directly aggregated or other information that is not reasonably linkable to you personally, in order to measure the performance of the Ads and the effectiveness of the campaigns, eg whether you go on listen to another podcast after hearing an Ad for it within a different podcast.

Our content may be published on websites and apps owned by other companies, such as Apple News, MSN, Facebook and YouTube.  These companies may collect and use data about your interactions with our content on their services, including for the purposes of showing you personalised Ads.  To find out what they do with your data please refer to the privacy notice and terms of use for the relevant service.

If at any time you do not want 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 IP address, will be used to show you a non-personalised ad even if you opt-out. We may also use your IP address 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.

Ad Personalisation Settings

You can opt-out from the use of your data by us and our Advertising Vendors to personalise advertising by clicking on the Cookies / Do not share or sell my info link in the footer of every page on

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 browser.

Change your mobile device settings

Mobile apps don’t use cookies. Instead, your Mobile Ad ID is used to recognise your device and collect information about your app browsing to show you personalised Ads. Typical IDs are AdID (Android) and IDFA (Apple). Follow the instructions below to reset or turn off this ID.

Apple iOS

Apple allows users running iOS 14 and above to disable the IDFA the first time the BBC News app is opened. Select “Ask App Not to Track” when prompted.

To change your preference, go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking  

Users running older versions of 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.

BBC News App Settings

For users in the EU, we provide additional settings to control which Advertising Vendors we share data with and for what purposes. Follow the instructions shown when the BBC News app is opened for the first time or, to reset your preferences within the app settings screen, go to:

Menu > Settings > Privacy Settings / Do Not Sell My Info

Some states such as California and Virginia have enacted privacy legislation that provides residents with a right to opt out from the sale of their personal information, or the processing/sharing of data for the purposes of targeted advertising (as defined under Virginia law). You can opt-out of any future “sale” or processing of your personal information in relation to targeted advertising (as defined under applicable law) by following the instructions detailed in this notice.

If you have previously opted-out of the use of your data in accordance with the above, you can opt back in by: (i) changing your Commercial Cookies Settings or by changing any of the other control measures described below in this notice and (ii) confirming your choice by continuing to use our site/app.

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 Vendors) to comply with a self-regulatory framework, which set out best practice principles, consumer guides, and opt-out tools.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the BBC Studios Data Protection Officer:

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