Google gives users greater control over reminder ads, but is it enough?
Google product manager Jon Krafcik announced changes to the company's handling of reminder ads, an advertisement that follows users around, yesterday.
Reminder ads are those ads that follow you around when and can appear to be nearly anywhere you go. If you ever placed an item of interest in a shopping cart but did not buy it outright then and there, or have shown interest in a product, you may have noticed that ads for the product or item frequently appear days and weeks afterward.
Companies may provide Google with information on users and matching advertisement, and Google tries to match the information by displaying these ads to matching users.
While reminder ads can be useful to the user as well, it happens that they are not. Maybe you found a better deal and bought the product on another site already. That may not keep the initial site and Google from showing you reminder ads though.
Google introduced options to mute advertisement in 2012. A click on the arrow icon that is displayed as part of the ad gives you options to mute the ad (stop seeing it) or get more information about it. If you select "stop seeing this ad", you get to another screen where you select a reason for it, for example, because you have seen this ad multiple times or because it was inappropriate.
Google started the roll out of two new "mute this ad" features yesterday. The first applies the muting to any device that you use the same Google account on. If you mute an ad on your desktop PC, it will be muted on the smartphone or a tablet as well provided that you sign in with the same account.
The second is not really a feature but a promise that Google will expand this to other company services such as YouTube, Search or Gmail in the coming months.
Google users may manage reminder ads in the Ads Settings of the Google Account on top of that. It features a new management interface to list all reminder ads and mute them for 90 days.
Google should consider adding a switch to the ads settings to let users turn reminder ads off completely. Some users don't want to be followed by ads, and the only options they have at this point are to sign out of a Google account or use content blocking.
It is easy enough to avoid the majority of reminder ads by not signing in to a Google account when you use Google Chrome or other web browsers or products.
Google claims that millions of users use the mute this ad option on a daily basis, and that the company received 5 billion pieces of feedback in 2017 alone.
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