Sensitive to privacy issues surrounding ad targeting, Google is opening the kimono to consumers about why certain search and Gmail ads are targeted to certain people. The company is launching an additional section to its ad preference center — where users can already manage targeting criteria for display ads. In the new area, people will be able see information about search ad targeting and opt-out of receiving ads from certain advertisers.
Users will now see a display at the top of ad blocks on Google.com and Gmail that says “Why these ads?” or “Why this ad?” When they click the link, they’ll see an explanation of why that particular ad was targeted to them — because of their current search, or because of recent searches.
They can also click through to the preferences center and see more detail. They may also opt out of receiving ads from selected advertisers.
The feature is designed to allay consumer concerns about tracking and targeting. Though Google’s testing showed that few users were interested in this data, according to business product group manager Gene Yoon, it also found that the people that were interested were very interested. “This is really a user-targeted feature,” said Yoon.
For advertisers, the new options will presumably provide more transparency and trust, and also ensure that marketers don’t bother to deliver ads to those who are actively negative about them.
The aggressive roll out begins today and will likely be seen by a double-digit percentage of users by the end of the day. The company will continue to expand the feature to 100% of users in the top 40 languages in the next few weeks.