Google is offering its "Why These Ads" link to inform users just how it chose specific ads to show its Google.com search and Gmail users. The move should assuage some privacy wonks.
(NASDAQ:GOOG) Oct. 31 is providing more insight into how ads its search and
Gmail users see are relevant, a move to appease privacy hounds who have called
for the company to be more forthcoming about how it targets users with ads.
company will soon provide a link title "Why these ads" next to ads
that appear in Google.com search results and Gmail. When users click the link, they'll learn why they've been
shown a particular ad
, and how it's been tailored for the user.
Google typically uses language, geographic location and other signals to target
users properly with ads.
you're searching for a local restaurant while you're on vacation in Hawaii, you
would see ads for restaurants that are nearby, rather than restaurants in your
hometown," explained Susan Wojcicki, Google's senior vice president for
advertising, in a corporate blog post
So a user
searching for restaurants in New York City may see a batch of ads for Manhattan
you're researching flat-panel televisions, and performing a series of similar
searches in quick succession, you could see ads based on the query that you
just entered, or based on a few recent and related queries within a single
browser session," Wojcicki added.
users may also click a link for the Ads Preferences Manager to make changes
that improve the ads they're being served. From this manager, users will also
be able to block specific advertisers they're not interested in or turning off
ads personalization entirely. This will impinge targeting efforts by Google's
positions both the Ad Preferences Manager dashboard and the new 'Why these
ads" link as solutions for consumers, but it's unlikely many consumers
actively use the Ads Preferences Manager. For the same reason, it's also
unlikely users will click Why These Ads to learn more about Google's ad-targeting
majority of consumers simply don't care enough or have the time to poke around
Google to learn how the search and Gmail Web services work.
options are important for is satiating privacy wonks who have spent the last
few years or so calling for investigations into Google's search-ad practices.
Google is the overwhelming leader in search, and it's secured the position by
gleaning a lot of customer data, which makes it a target for suspicious
Groups such as
the Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil
Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center have all called
for Google to be put in check at multiple stops along its path to becoming the
search ad behemoth it is.
helped itself by stumbling in protecting user data with its Google Buzz and
Street View WiFi privacy gaffes.
those mistakes may end up benefitting Google in the long run because they have
forced Google to become more transparent. Services such as the Ad Preferences
Manager and Why These Ads links can help show regulators that Google is trying
to be more user-friendly and open about its business practices. See a list of the company's privacy tools here
help the company at a time when the Justice Department, Federal Trade
Commission and European Commission scrutinize the company for anti-competitive