Do you use Google as your search engine, for email or finding directions? Do you watch videos on YouTube or use Chrome as your web browser? Or have an Android phone? If the answer’s yes, there’s an awful lot that Google knows about you and what you do online.
Of course we know this as marketers, and every day we see evidence of it as consumers.
As marketers, Google makes it possible for us to target consumers by their interests, presumed age and gender, and many other factors (location, device, search history, what they ate for breakfast and more). OK, maybe not the “what they ate for breakfast” part (although…)
And as consumers, we’re aware of the remarketing ads from companies whose sites we recently visited. And those ads which, while looking out of place on the webpage we’re viewing, are nevertheless relevant to us and our interests.
Now Google is lifting the lid on what it knows about you (with My Activity), while allowing consumers to set their ad preferences (using Ads Personalization).
Accessed from within My Account, My Activity consolidates all the data Google has gathered about you and your activities in one place. You are then able to remove, should you wish, any particular topics or search queries from any Google property.
Of more interest to marketers, My Activity includes Ads Personalization, Google’s update to Ad Settings manager (and the previous Ads Preferences Manager).
Importantly, Ads Personalization is an opt-in feature that is turned off by default. Opt-in and you are consenting to have your activity tracked, but your reward is to have some control over the types of ads you see across all your devices. You can select your interests, and remove others, and “mute” advertisers you don’t like from showing you ads on any of your signed-in devices.
Rollout is already underway and Google is notifying users of the new features as they become available in their accounts.
Why should you care?
Here’s the big question: how many people will take advantage of Google’s Ads Personalization?
We’re unsure, and remain to be convinced.
After all, anyone who feels that Google already knows too much about them is unlikely to provide their implicit consent to being tracked. And anyone annoyed by irrelevant ads is more likely to install an ad blocker, with the advantage that they can nuke all ads (and not just from Google but also other ad networks).
On the other hand, if significant numbers opt-in, then the results would be positive for both advertisers and consumers, as audience targeting and user experience would both be improved.
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Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.