Google to give users options to choose how ads are personalized

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
In this Sept. 24, 2019, file photo a woman walks below a Google sign on the campus in Mountain View, Calif.

Google users will be able to choose if they want to see more or fewer ads based on specific categories and decide what personal data is used to target ads to them, the tech giant announced Thursday. 

The new control settings are part of Google’s “My Ad Center,” which will roll out globally to users starting this week. 

With the new settings, users will be able to filter ads based on topics, such as “beauty and personal care” or “hybrid alternative vehicles.” Users will be able to choose if they want to see fewer or more of those ads across Google search and YouTube. 

The new setting will also let users choose if they want to see fewer or more ads based on specific brands. 

The launch also expands on Google’s ability to let users limit ads on “sensitive” categories.

Users will be able to limit ads on five sensitive categories: alcohol, dating, gambling, pregnancy and parenting, and weight loss. If users choose to not see content from those categories, Google will try to show no ads based on the topic area, rather than just “fewer,” as the company is doing for the broader category topics. 

The update, however, will not impact political ads. Politics is not included in the topic categories that users will be able to filter, and Google’s approach to political ads is not changing under the update. 

Through the new My Ad Center, users will have more control over what personal data about them is used to generate targeted ads, the company said. Users will be able to either change or verify information Google has inferred about them, for example about their relationship status or the industry they work in. 

Users can also decide to turn off specific categories of personal identifying information so they are not used to create personalized ads. 

“We’re looking to balance this tension between more growing concerns around privacy and people’s expectations there, as well as the fact that the user expectation around personalization, and really useful relevant content, which includes ads, is delivering on those promises to users,” said Karin Hennessy, a Google product manager. 

With the update, users will also be able to turn off their YouTube history for personalized ads, while still allowing the information to be used for recommending content. 

“It gives users who are looking for it additional control over how to separate the use of their information for ads as compared with what they want used on their experiences on the other products,” Hennessy said. 

Tags Advertisements Google Google Karin Hennessy My Ad Center personal data political ads Targeted advertising YouTube

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