Google has launched ‘My Ad Center’ to help users control the kinds of ads they want to see across Google on Search, YouTube and Discover. Through this, one can block sensitive ads and learn more about the information used to personalise the ad experience.
Earlier this feature affected ads shown on YouTube and Display. Now, it expands to ads shown on Search and Discover. Amid this, the question that arises is how will Google giving power to the users to personalise the ads they view impact advertisers?
Rahul Vengalil, Executive Director at Everest Brand Solutions, thinks that this new ad centre feature can be a double-edged sword for advertisers.
He said, “Google has given the option to control the kind of ads and the sensitivity around the content to the consumers. The intent is bang on, but I do not know how many hurdles consumers, brands and Google are going to have on this account.”
According to Shantanu Bhattacharyya, Senior Vice-President of Media Planning, Strategy and Client Success at LS Digital, this step is a win-win for both the audience as well as the brands. The audience gets informed about brands from categories that they have an affinity for and are not randomly bombarded.
He added, “Brands on the other hand get to reach out to a sharper audience by negating the audience who have shown a clear indication of not being interested in the category. This means an improvement in both effectiveness as well as efficiency of digital spending. As digital marketers, we would love more and more audiences opting for the ‘My Ad Center’ feature and moving the needle for consent-based marketing.”
Through this, users browsing any information will be safe and protected and they can choose if they want Google to personalise their ads based on their browsing behaviour, as per Kedar Kulkarni, Vice-President – Digital, Puretech Digital.
He said, “They can choose to not have this enabled for them. For example, if your YouTube history is on, it does not automatically affect how your ads are personalised unless you want them to be.”
In My Ad Center, one can easily control whether or not Google will show personalised ads. One can turn on or off personalised ads on Google services at any time.
When personalised ads are turned on, the ads would become more relevant because then one’s info will be used to help find ads for products and brands that interest the person.
Through the My Ad Center, one can turn off permissions to use their YouTube History without impacting relevant recommendations in their feed.
Kulkarni said, “You can also adjust how the other information sets such as your education, relationship status, and work industry are used to tailor your ads. Users can thus control what they see and what's right for them. Furthermore, this experience can be switched ON/OFF across different devices irrespective of the users' login status on Google.”
Also, with this development, the power will lie in the hands of the consumers to decide which category of brand ads they want to watch. But according to Vengalil, the major challenge is people customising the same.
Vengalil said, “Most consumers work in a binary fashion. Either accept or deny. Only the evolved customers will excitedly customise. The other major issue that I see is that different consumers would need different brands/solutions at different points in time.”
Giving an example he explained, “If someone is interested in buying a car then this person might choose to be shown car ads. While once he/she purchases the car, this category becomes irrelevant for at least the next 5 years. This means that the person should again change the setting either at the ad centre or when a new ad is shown. This, for a layman, is too cumbersome. If this happens, then from an advertiser’s point of view, there is going to be an increase in the effectiveness of ads in the short-term. But for high involvement goods like Automobiles, Real estate, white goods, etc I see a reduction in engagement in the long-term.”
However, multiple platforms have rolled out brand safety features that allow advertisers to select what sorts of topics they don't want their ads to run next to and now Google is encouraging consumers to use similar features, according to Bhattacharyya.
Bhattacharyya added that digital privacy is not in the mainstream consciousness, and Google knows this. Making this hub accessible for everyone on Google’s ecosystem is a victory for transparency, but it’s unlikely that a majority or even a significant minority of Chrome users will be regularly updating their settings on the Ad Center.
Moreover, Google is already focusing on privacy with the (ever-delayed) phasing out of third-party cookies on Chrome. My Ad Center is like a “lite” version of Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency, the iOS policy that lets users opt out of tracking entirely.
Though everyone has been waiting for its roll out to users globally. With the sunsetting of cookies in 2024, the new privacy features give users their best chance at privacy and having a say in the ads they are served, noted Bhattacharyya.
The new features could be beneficial to advertisers as well, since users who take advantage of My Ad Center will have access to the ads and brands they are most interested in. Advertisers will also benefit from higher ad relevance.
Additionally, in My Ad Center, users can see fewer ads in five sensitive categories: Alcohol, Dating, Gambling, Pregnancy and parenting and Weight loss which will have an impact on the brands in this category.
Kulkarni said, “A lot of these categories have products/services which are likely to be sensitive and users have very strong opinions about whether or not they will engage with these categories. Giving more control to users on this allows them to keep their feeds clean of content that does not align with their preferences. This, of course, means that the visibility across these categories is expected to go down but I see it as an improvement towards getting better performance from their ads. Hence, your CTRs are expected to go up or your conversion rates, perhaps, will go up as you won't be showing ads to users who have specifically opted out from these categories.”
On the other hand, according to Bhattacharyya, it will have an impact but advertisers will have to think in a way about what consumers want and most people only want to see ads that are relevant and useful to them. “To build more trust, we want to continue ensuring that ads respect people’s privacy; and offer transparency, choice, and control. We see these principles as foundational to the future of advertising. It is a key priority for our business.”
Bhattacharyya added, “We feel Google’s evolving industry is innovating through its products. Building products that are secure by default, private by design, and put the control of data in the hands of consumers. When it comes to advertisers, publishers, and other partners, everyone is taking a privacy-preserving approach to advertise, built on first-party data, which will unlock the benefits of machine learning.”
“I see doing all this because Google believes it’s essential to the open web to build a long-term stable ads ecosystem. And Google intends to help navigate the industry to a privacy-first, pro-consumer-focused future.”