Google, the world's biggest online ad company, is updating its ad settings tools to give you a new choice to mute ads that seem to follow you around the web.
These so-called 'reminder ads' appear when you've visited some ecommerce site to, say, buy a pair of shoes, but for whatever reason don't complete the purchase. Ad services such as Google give site owners the option of showing you reminder ads to help draw you back.
They can be annoying if you're no longer interested in the product, and could be one more reason for switching on an ad blocker. Now, Google will give its users the option to mute individual advertisers that target them with reminder ads, the company said in a blogpost.
Google explains how ad reminders work in a new support page. Site owners can build a list of visitors to their site, and then give that list to Google so that it can show reminder ads to the same person again.
Google highlights that it's just one of many online ad services that use website visitor lists to show reminder ads on their ad network.
Google is rolling out a new control in Ads Settings, which can be accessed from the My Accounts page. Ad Settings will show a new section called 'Your reminder ads', which displays each advertiser whose reminders you want to mute. Clicking X mutes them.
Of course, this control only works on sites and apps that use Google ad services, so you may still see the same ad coming from other ad services.
While Google could be giving up potential revenue, the new feature is designed to help users that are feeling pestered.
However, the mute for each advertiser is temporary, lasting three months. Google says advertisers tend to show reminder ads within a limited timespan, often within a month from the visit, and reminders rarely extend beyond 90 days. After this period, users may begin to see reminder ads again.
Google will roll out the tool to control ads on YouTube, Search, and Gmail in the coming months.
Another ad control Google is introducing updates the Mute This Ad feature that it introduced in 2012. Now, when you mute an ad, Google will recognize this setting on mobile and desktop, so long as the user is signed in to the same Google Account on both devices.
The second update expands Mute this Ad to work on more apps and websites that use Google's ad services to show ads.
Apparently lots of people use the Mute This Ad feature, which gave Google five billion bits of feedback in 2017 that told it various ads aren't relevant. Based on that feedback Google removed one million ads from its ad network.