At Google’s I/O developer conference, the company introduced a new tool that, later this year, will allow users more control and visibility over how their ads are personalized across Google’s apps and sites, including Google Search, YouTube, and the Discover feed in the Google app.
From a new three-dot menu that will appear on all the ads across the different sites, users will be able to engage with the ad in a number of ways. They’ll be able to like it or share it, block it or report it, see who’s paid for it, and find out why they were targeted with it.
And if users don’t want to see ads of that kind, they can use embedded tools from this menu or visit the new My Ad Center hub to inform Google of that preference. To get to the hub, users just have to click the menu option that says “customize more of the ads you see” to be directed to the new experience.
Within the new My Ad Center hub, users will be able to learn more about how ads are personalized and gain control over how their data is used, says Google. It’s specifically meant to address ads appearing on Google’s owned and operated sites, like Search, YouTube, and Discover, but doesn’t extend to the Google Display Network.
From the hub’s home screen, users will be able to turn on or off various categories of ads by clicking plus and minus buttons across a variety of categories — like fitness, vacation rentals, skincare, and many others. For example, if you wanted to see fewer beauty ads, you could just click to remove them from your lineup.
You can also browse a screen featuring brands you like and then click to either add or remove them from your personalized ad round-up.
Another screen lets users limit ads on more sensitive topics, like ads about alcohol, gambling, and, as of April’s expansion, dating, pregnancy, parenting, and weight loss. These are the types of ads that could be welcome by some users, but could feel harmful to others.
For instance, if someone was struggling to conceive, they may not want to see any ads related to pregnancy or parenting. Previously, Google allowed users to adjust those ad preferences in the Ads Settings section on their Google Account dashboard. But now these toggles are consolidated into the new My Ad Center tool.
Most notably, the new My Ad Center hub includes a big button at the top of the screen where users can choose to turn off personalized ads altogether.
But Google believes most users won’t take that more extreme step.
“We see personalized ads as valuable and useful — just like personalized movie recommendations, personalized news recommendations, personalized commerce recommendations,” says Google’s Director of Ads Privacy and Trust, David Temkin.
He additionally explains this feature offers users for the first time the ability to control the content of the ads they see, beyond just sensitive ads, and make that process easy to navigate.
The tool, of course, follows a larger set of changes impacting the ads industry. Google earlier this year introduced the idea of Topics, a way for the browser to learn a user’s interests as they move around the web. The system came about after complaints from EU antitrust regulators over Google’s plan to deprecate cookies using a different method that they said would entrench Google’s market power. With Topics, Google categorizes the sites a user visits by categorizing them within one of 300 topics. This Topics-based system began testing in March, alongside other related privacy tools.
As a part of those trials, Google had said it would offer tools where users could remove interests assigned to them by this Topics-based surveillance of their browsing activities. This new My Ad Center tool combines Google’s existing tools with the ability to customize the types of ads you’re shown more specifically.
The My Ad Center Hub is still in development so the preview offered at Google I/O today could change between now and when the product ships to the public later this year.