Google to let users see the 'Why?' behind Gmail, search ads

Google will add a link that explains why people are being shown specific ads

Help is on the way for anyone who has ever been puzzled by Google's choice of ads in their Gmail messages and their search results pages.

Google will display a link labeled "Why these ads" in Gmail and search pages that will explain the reasons they were chosen for display.

Some of the elements that may come into play are the user's language, geographic location and recent search queries, Google said on Tuesday in a blog post.

Google will also make it possible for people who are signed into their Google Account to block ads from specific marketers and turn off ad personalization altogether, the company said.

The new tools and functionality will debut at different points in Google search and Gmail over the coming weeks, according to Google.

"We're always working to deliver the perfect ad, and we know that it's important to have a choice about the kinds of ads that are shown to you. If you don't wish to see personalized ads, the choice is yours," wrote Susan Wojcicki, Google's senior vice president of advertising.

Google already provides similar tools and functionality for ads that appear on YouTube and on external websites that carry Google ads via the company's AdSense ad distribution program.

The issue of targeting ads to people based on their online activities is a sensitive one that has drawn attention from privacy watchdogs and the government.

Among the concerns is that people often get tracked and profiled in stealthy ways that they aren't aware of and that they have little or no control over.

This commonly happens through the silent insertion of cookies as people visit websites. These cookies often collect browsing history information so that ads can be personalized.

Legislators and regulators in the U.S. and abroad are taking a hard look at this issue and pondering the establishment of rules. Online ad providers generally argue that government intervention isn't necessary because the industry can monitor its own practices and agree on guidelines.

Tuesday's announcement by Google is aimed at giving people more information about ad targeting and more control over it.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags advertisingInternet-based applications and servicesGoogleMailinternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?