If you spend an unhealthy amount of time on Google (who doesn’t?), then you’ve likely come across thousands of Display Ads in the past few years. It doesn’t take much digging around to discover that these ads are chosen for us based on our past searches on Google and our browsing history.
However, just because you come across ads that are based on your past searches doesn’t mean that you want to view these ads. For instance, if you were looking for a pair of cowboy boots online last week then purchased one and you’re still seeing Google Display Ads on boots this week, you’re bound to wonder how you can make it stop. If Google is to be believed, there’s a solution to this.
Few people bother checking out the personalized settings they have on Google but those who do know that Google allows you to choose the ads you view…..until it doesn’t. Now wait, hold on. I don’t mean that Google won’t show you ads based on your interests, because it does. What I’m getting at is that Google won’t only show you ads based on your interests, regardless of how hard you try.
The Google Display Ads you generally view when you’re online are based on several factors. These factors aren’t just limited to your search and browser history but also your location, gender, online activities, and much more. In other words, Google has loads of avenues open to it to figure out your interests and show you ads accordingly.
This is what gives many people the impression that Google has them under some sort of surveillance and is spying on them secretly. After all, how could Google possibly know that you wanted to buy a vintage dress a few days ago when you never voiced that out loud to a single living soul or looked for it online? Don’t worry, Google isn’t spying on you (that we know of), it’s simply tracking your online activity and following your train of thought to show you ads you may want to check out.
To get rid of ads you’re not interested in and only view ads based on your preferences and interests, you can adjust the settings of your Google ads to reflect the same. If you open your Google search settings, you’ll see that you get to choose your interests — which means you’ll only have to view ads on products or services you’re interested in. Once you do, try and track your progress and see how often you see ads on an interest you didn’t highlight in your list.
Based on most user experiences with Google Ads, we’d say that you’re highly unlikely to see any ads based on an interest you didn’t highlight – for the first few days at least. During this time, what Google does is it replaces ads you aren’t interested in (but had to view anyway) with ads you’ve more or less asked them to show you. However, as time goes by, you’ll notice that you’re slowly inching back to square one.
If you open your list of interests a few days after you initially set it, you’re sure to observe that your list now contains loads of new items that you have no recollection of adding. So where did these items come from if you didn’t add them? Yes, you guessed right – Google added them based on your activity over the past few days and your interactions with the ads you viewed.
Filling your screen with Display Ads on products you’re likely to purchase is highly profitable for Google so naturally, it would want you to view ads that you want to view. However, it has become increasingly clear over the years that Google believes it knows your interests better than you do, and who knows if this may be true? After all, it keeps making tons of money from its Display Ads so it’s doing something right.
As for control over your preferences in Display Ads, this is largely an illusion and is quite short-lived. Unless you have the patience to edit your interests in Google’s settings every couple of days, you’ll have to make do with viewing ads that Google wants you to view. So essentially the paradox I’ve referred to in the title of this post is the fact that Google will let you personalize your Display Ads, as long as it exercises control over what you view.