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google’s new advertising transparency

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Google is a multi-billion dollar search engine that makes most of its money from advertising. Google uses various methods to track people’s interests in order to target advertising to individuals. This particular article discusses google’s recent move to make their advertising targeting more transparent. This decision is invoked by user’s feeling a “creepiness” in being tracked by a search engine.
So how does google track people’s interests? Google uses a “behavioural-focused targeting model”, where they follow what you type on the Internet, reviews emails you have received in the past, track your location and more. There is no doubt that this sort of add selection uses some “creepy” methods in order to better inform the customer what is out there. However, as Jules Polonetsky , director of the Future of Privacy Forum mentions, “Frankly, it’s not creepy when I get you know something [about me] and you’re trying to help me”. What Polonetsky says may be true for some people, but to other people just not knowing that information about them is being tracked can feel a bit invading. In an effort to comfort some of those people google will add, “Why these ads?”, which intends to explain the relationship between the information google has obtained about you, and the ads they provide you on your email and search.
The concept of “Why these ads?” builds on the current Ad Preference Manager. However, the Ad Preference Manager was not used by many people. Polonetsky recites that, “Out of every 15 users who get to the preference manager..10 do nothing, four edit specific preferences, and only one opts out of behavioural targeting entirely”. “Why these ads?” will hopefully give more insight into googles ad choices, than what is currently being provided by Ad Preference Manager.
It appears in addition to providing a service to the customers the increased transparency will also allow users to use the Ad Preference Manager with more insight. The article states that, “Indeed, wrapping one’s head around Ad Preference Manager isn’t easy”, and further implies that “Why these Ad’s” will help people use Ad Preference Manager better. This in turn will help google’s ad targeting, by using the consumer’s own input.
This particular article is very applicable to what we have recently learned in networks about google ad targeting. In networks we discussed some of the ways in which google target’s ads for people. One of the ways mentioned in class was that when someone searches for a particular thing, having advertisement that is relevant to the keywords searched is a good model in itself. We also briefly discussed that google had other ways of targeting advertisement. Some of these particular methods of advertising are mentioned in the article, including: location tracking, reviews of past emails and more. This ability of google to use these methods to create a “behavioural-focused targeting model” increases peoples willingness to click on ads that turn up on their email and searches. This in turn increases google’s revenue. However in turn google has reached a point where this sort of ad targeting has started to creep people out, which is part of the reason they have decided to implement “Why these ad’s?”.
In addition, in networks we discussed that the way the advertisements are sold to a particular company who wished to buy advertising space is through an auction. This article reveals that in addition, people themselves can help decide what advertisements they receive using Ad Preference Manager.


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