Google Plans To Give Users More Control Over Personalized Ads

GoogleWe’re all familiar with the concept of personalized ads on the internet. It is not uncommon to see an ad on the sidebar for a product you were just talking about or a site you recently visited. But Google is changing the way this works and giving its users more freedom to decide how it works for them. This will involve letting viewers update their privacy settings.

Google will be introducing a feature that allows users to choose a new way of storing information. Over time, this information could leads to ads that are more personalized for individuals. Google is already collecting lot of information through the user’s search activity, YouTube views, and Gmail messages. The change involves a switch from a system in which data for each Google product is stored separately to a system in which information is associated with a user’s account.

The feature should be coming out in the next few weeks. It will ask users if they want to opt in, and if they don’t, their privacy settings will stay the same. There are no immediate new advertising products to go along with the switch. However, the update may lead to more effective personalized ads because it will connect data across products and services in order to better anticipate what a user might want to buy.

Users can also expect a new section in their settings called My Activity. This section will allow users to keep better track of what they watched, read, and searched. It will do this by showing users their internet history across Google properties. In the past, the company kept data collected about each product separately. These products include YouTube, search, Gmail and other services. The update will also give users the opportunity to strengthen the association between their activity across devices and a certain username. In the past, the user’s mobile activity has affected the mobile ads the user receives, but this idea has not been applied to desktop activity.

Google’s update is a little different from the way other tech companies have operated in the past. Other companies have relied on their users to turn off features themselves. For example, Facebook added features similar to Google’s new features last month. These features allowed users to limit the information about themselves that advertisers can see. However, Facebook required users to go into their settings to make the change instead of having it done for them automatically.

We’ll have to see the impact this feature has on digital advertising. Will people be more likely to click on, or pay attention to, ads? How many people will use this new Google feature? Only time will tell, but it seems that this feature is revolutionary in the freedom it gives its users to choose whether or not they want to take it on board.

The Fight Over Ad Blockers

mobile-698624_1920Technology has provided the advertising industry the means for reaching a global audience. But in today’s culture of constant and disposable digital content, advertisers must fight for their clicks. The clash of advertisers, tech companies, and ad blockers created palpable tension at a panel discussion about ad-blocking at Mobile World Congress. Whether you are a consumer, or a large brand, your experience with ad blockers will inform the future of digital ads.

The panel included executives from Google, Shine, Nestlé, AOL and Yahoo who spoke to marketers about consumer behavior and their use of mobile ad blockers. The conversation lead to recommendations pertaining to the quality of online ads, but the main focus of the discussion was Shine, a mobile ad blocker. Shine is actively working with carriers like the Three Group, a European carrier, and Digicel, a Caribbean telecompany. Customers can opt to use their ad blocking technology, which does not “whitelist” a fixed roll of publishers. This means their technology can block all mobile ads.

Shine’s technology is the cause of much debate in the realm of digital marketing. Roi McCarthy, CMO of Shine, is quick to defend the products and it’s importance to the average consumer. As a member of the panel he stated, “Every individual using a mobile handset, smartphone or desktop is being abused by ad-tech—that’s not selective, that is 100 percent. We’re talking about military-grade tracking, targeting and profiling. Consumers do not have the ability to protect themselves.” While both sides of the debate are ready with a defense, there are tech giants like Google, AOL, and Yahoo caught in the middle. These web portals are the platforms for millions of digital ads, and publishers rely on them heavily for revenue. These publishers are not at liberty to provide their content for free, or without the fair trade of ads.

While the tension may feel uncomfortable, this could create a positive change in the world of digital ads. Companies will have to find solutions informed by consumer opinion and sentiment. Additionally, companies will have to establish transparency with consumers, in order avoid any feelings of encroachment. The problem may not be ad blocking software, but the way ads are placed and presented. Reframing the challenge could lead to innovative solutions that will benefit consumers, brands and publishers. For about the fight over ad blockers, continue reading at AdWeek.