Google is giving us more control over data and ad targeting by launching a revamped version of Ad Settings. These new and improved controls allow us to curate our ad experiences by picking and choosing (and removing) which topics we want to see ads around.
Ad Settings was originally launched in 2009 as a single place for users to get an accurate read on ads. The new Ad Settings builds on what made the first edition so great by giving us new information about how our demographics, interests, and our browsing history factor into the ads we see everyday.
Ad Settings can also show you information from advertisers that partner with Google to show ads.
Let’s say you’re a horror fan and you frequently search for horror trailers on YouTube or Google search. Because of this activity, you’ll probably see some ads for horror movie tickets or rentals.
This information is made available to you in Google Ad Settings and you have the option to turn off ads related to horror or manage that specific interest.
Turning off a factor means you’ll no longer receive tailored ads related to it across our services, and on websites and apps that partner with us to show ads, as long as you’re signed in to your Google Account.
The ads you see can still be based on general factors, like the subject of what you’re looking at or the time of day, or any other factor that is still turned on.”
Google Improves Transparency
Google is also being more open about why users see the tailored ads they do by expanding ‘Why this ad?’ to all Google-partnered sites (including YouTube and Search). ‘Why this ad?’(originally launched in 2011) is a link feature that appears next to ads.
This clickable label helps users understand why certain ads are being targeted to them and where they came from.
For example, if a user wants to know why they are seeing so many ads for hotels in London, the feature will tell them it’s because they’ve either searched for London hotels, visited London tourism sites, or clicked on London hotel ads in the past.
The updated version of “Why this ad?” brings the link feature to Youtube, Google Play, and various other sites.
Before Ad Settings and “Why this Ad?,” ad targeting was a pretty foreign, and opaque topic for most users. Advertisers and brands were the only ones who had any semblance of control over ad delivery.
In recent years however, demand for digital transparency has grown and after the Cambridge Analytica data breach, that demand skyrocketed.
While consumers are usually okay with giving up some of their information to brands for things like quizzes, e-commerce, and other services, they still expect some level of transparency in regards to how their information is used for targeted ads.
Implications for Marketers
Ad Settings, and other ad controls, are not only beneficial for users, they’re important for marketers. Consumers are more likely to trust marketers who are open about their ad policies and how they collect data for targeting.
Brand transparency removes that cold sense of disconnect we, as users, sometimes feel when we hand off our information to companies who hide their intentions. We are much more likely to make persistent engagements with brands that are open and honest so, as marketers, we should strive to remove the veil of secrecy from our ad targeting methods.
Because these new Ad Settings allow consumers to be more proactive in the content marketing process, marketers will need to be hyper aware of the authenticity of their personalized marketing messages.
Personalized messages can also come across as creepy to consumers, almost like Big Brother is keeping tabs on them. This, of course, isn’t true but it’s important to be transparent and authentic anyway to keep from scaring off our audiences.
Doing this can also alleviate some of that coldness present in some marketing materials and attract new audiences looking for some honesty and warmth.
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