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Google updates ad tools with more transparency and more control

Tim Maytom

Google has overhauled its ad controls for consumers, promising users more transparency and control when it comes to their data and ad experience. The new Ad Settings tool will help consumers understand and control how ads are tailored to them, while features aimed at boosting transparency are being rolled out across Google's entire ad ecosystem.

The controls build on existing features introduced over the years by Google to provide consumers with some controls over which ads they are served. In 2009, Google launched the initial Ad Settings feature, providing consumers with a single place to access ad controls. In 2011 and 2012, it introduced 'Why this ad?' and 'Mute this ad' respectively, providing additional transparency and control over which ads users saw, and in 2015 brought these features together in Google Account.

The new Ad Settings menu shows all the different factors that determine how ads are tailored to an individual in a single place, allowing users to fine tune which interests, demographic data and other factors are used to target them. These can then be switched off or on, depending on user preference.

The 'Why this ad?' feature, which enables users to easily access their Ad Settings while also providing transparency information about why they have been targeted with a given ad, is being rolled out to all services that show Google Ads. This ranges from YouTube (including the YouTube app on connected TVs) and Google Play to Gmail, Maps and Search. It also includes "almost all" of Google's partner websites ands apps.

"The new Ad Settings and updates to 'Why this ad?' provide you with more transparency and control over your Google ad experience that ever before," said Philippe de Lurand Pierre-Paul, product manager at Google. "With these improvements, you can browse the web confidently knowing that you have the information and control to make Google work better for you."