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

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. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.