Google's new ad settings will let you switch off adverts that know too much

New Ad Settings page shows all the factors Google uses to target ads and the option to switch them off.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google updated its Ad Settings page with new controls that allow users to see how it targets them with ads -- and to turn off adverts from some companies.

The revamped Ad Settings page offers more transparency about the source of information used for targeted advertising. The move is designed to counter growing angst over personalized ads that Google and Facebook like to position as "more relevant" ads.

The Ad Settings page now contains a single view of all the factors that Google uses to target ads from its advertising customers, with the option to switch off any of the factors.

Clicking on a button for one of its ad customers will explain where Google got your information from, such as information you provided to the advertiser, which they then gave to Google in order to show you tailored ads.

So long as you're signed in to a Google Account, you can now click a "turn off [advertiser]", which will stop tailored ads from that particular advertiser for at least 90 days. You need to click one more time to confirm this decision, which will prevent those ads appearing via Google's ad network.

The page also contains all the factors Google thinks are your interests, such as boating, auto, computers, and so on that are "based on your activity on non-Google websites and apps while you were signed in."

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Other interests may be have been sourced from activity on Google sites such as YouTube or search when signed in.

"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 explained in a blogpost.

Facebook has also introduced changes to give users more transparency about the ad targeting process. As Facebook's Cambridge Analytica crisis erupted, the company explained how it builds a profile of its users from its own data, advertiser-supplied data, and third-party tracking.

And this week the company ushered in new rules for advertising uploading information to Facebook to target its users. It requires advertisers explain where they got customer information from when providing it to Facebook, which the social network then explains to users in the "Why am I seeing this ad?" link.

Google has also expanded its "Why this ad?" link that appears next to ads. The "Why this ad" link will appear on all Google services that show Google Ads, including YouTube, Google Play, Gmail, Maps and Search.


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