Google’s My Ad Center lets users control their ad experience, follow brands

A sleek new My Ad Center experience was announced today at Google’s annual I/O event. It provides users with a handful of options to control the messages being served across selected Google properties.

Google users will be able to dictate:

  • Which brands and topics they like.
  • The amount of personalization they are comfortable with for their ad customization.

These personalization options can be accessed from within the new My Ad Center experience or directly within the ad itself.

Privacy has been the core issue over the last few years. While Google has focused on offering a variety of solutions, many times they’ve been somewhat hard to navigate to for the unskilled user.

If adopted by consumers, the My Ad Center solution should help to feed Google’s ad serving intelligence while making the user experience better on Google Properties including YouTube, Discover and Search. With third-party data going away, the ability to follow brands will provide critical feedback directly to Google.

Here’s everything we know about My Ads Center from Google I/O:

Follow brands and topics. All Google users will now have the ability to choose the brands and topics most germane to them that they want to see. This is much different than the Topics targeting within the Privacy Sandbox now being tested, as the inputs are dictated directly by the user. 

An example provided by Google was that a user interested in a hybrid car may choose this as a topic that they’d be interested in and would be served ads related to that particular topic. This can also work with specific brands that users enjoy 

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The key difference is that the user would be directly providing Google with the inputs to help drive targeted ads.

Personalization and data source controls. The My Ad Center location will be the go-to source for users looking to limit any/all personalization including age, relationship status, education and demographic data. Users can also limit or opt-out of sensitive ad topics (e.g., gambling, alcohol, dating, weight loss, and pregnancy & parenting) within My Ad Center.

The last personalizable element found in My Ad Center is control over the data sources used. Google users will be able to choose which data sources can be used to personalize ads and which sources should be used across some Google properties (e.g., personalized search, YouTube recommendations). Those inputs come in the form of wanting more or less ads from a topic or brand.

Expanded controls within ads. While My Ad Center is nice, let’s be honest, sometimes people just want to make changes immediately when they are served an ad. Those folks are in luck with expanded controls within ads.

Google users will have the ability to make changes or get targeting clarity directly within the ad itself. The new expanded controls will allow users to like, block or report an ad while also being able to tune the targeting if you’d like to see more or less of the brand or topic shown.

However, the biggest change for advertisers may be the transparency features included directly within the ad controls. The “About this Ad” is being replaced with the new transparency features that should make it more clear as to why users are seeing the ad.

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The expanded controls will include transparency features that show who paid for the ad (using Advertiser Identity Verification) and the account categories used to show the specific ad.

In the past users could see “Why this ad” information that would display matching criteria. But the ability to see who paid for the ad is new and important.

Not for the Google Display Network, Gmail or Search Partners (yet). When My Ad Center launches the only supported products will be Google search, YouTube and Google Discover. Upon launch, there will be a second ad settings page separate from the My Ads Center for sites that partner with Off-Google ads (ie the Google Display Network).

The topics or brand updates inputted into the My Ads Center won’t initially be passed to this new second ad settings page. That said, if ad personalization is shut off entirely within My Ads Center that will shut off all personalization across all Google-owned and non-Google-owned properties.

Why we care: My Ad Center looks to be Google’s best effort yet on privacy control. Not only will users be able to see why items are serving from the center, but also from within ads themselves. Most importantly, users will get clarity into who is paying for the ad being served. If you are an advertiser currently trying to hide your information and fly under the radar, look elsewhere as your days are numbered on Google properties.

The addition of brands and topics to follow is a unique feature that could be a future benefit to advertisers. Instead of solely leveraging elements from the Privacy Sandbox like Topics, down the road this may provide Google with first-party user-inputted signals for targeting. However, the success of this option will be tied to adoption. If Google users don’t take the time to provide feedback in My Ads Center, then the value to users (and advertisers) won’t exist.

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