Ask Why, And Google Will Tell You

I’ll admit, I’m a bit creeped out by display ads that seem to be targeting me. Particularly the ones that “follow” me across multiple websites or reference something I’ve shopped for recently.

Google is attempting, in part, to explain why you’re seeing certain ads. From The Seattle Times:

“Our advertising system is designed to show the right ad to the right person at the right time. Because ads should be just as useful as any other information on the Web, we try to make them as relevant as possible for you,” Susan Wojcicki, Google’s senior vice president of advertising, wrote in a blog post.

Wojcicki said the new feature — called “Why these ads?” — helps users learn why they see certain ads and gives them the ability to block advertisers or opt out of ads that are personalized to them.

For example, Google-search users who click on “Why these ads?” next to ads that show up in search results will get an explanation such as “this ad is based on your current search terms.” Users can then decide if they want to block that advertiser or turn off ad personalization altogether.

I haven’t been able to find this feature yet, but I’ll poke around. Will this bit of explanation help put your mind at ease? Do you think most consumers are really concerned about ads that target them so well?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Shaboo1491 says:

    As a consumer I would like to think that I do not pay attention to the ads that pop-up on each website I visit. However, in reality, I do pay attention to the ads. Even if I do not think I care about what an ad is promoting to me, subconciously I am interested. Whatever I see being advertised I think about. Whether I have an annoyed thought or a thought to make a purchase, I am thinking about what is being promoted. I do not think consumers think a great amount about ads targeting them so well, but I do think that people are beginning to notice how companies are placing ads on the internet by seeing what people are interested in through their searches. When I first began to notcie specific ads targeting me I was annoyed that companies could get a hold of such information about my searches and interests. I do think though that I pay more attention and like seeing ads better that contain my interests than ads I have no desire to come across.

    On the other hand, as a student learning about strategic communications, I think that companies are brillant in the ways in which they have come to advertise to specific groups based off of the things people search for on the internet.