Like it or not, advertising is everywhere (I’d be out of a job if it wasn’t!), but why exactly do you see the ads that you see scattered around the Internet? What makes us Digital Marketers target YOU with a particular product or service? The answer is simpler than you think, and believe it or not, for the most part, you’re in complete control of this.
First of all, what is a display ad? It’s simply a visual (image) ad that’s been targeted toward a particular user. Here’s an example:
These ads usually appear down the side or along the top of a particular webpage that you’re looking at. A large percentage of these ads are from the “Google Display Network”, that is, an advertiser has designed an ad, and created a campaign through Google Adwords to target users across the Internet.
To properly understand Google display ad targeting, we need to look at the overall purpose of digital advertising as a whole. These display ads have a tendency to follow you wherever you go, and unfortunately some advertisers will take advantage of this medium to overexpose you to something that you don’t necessarily want. This is not the right way to advertise.
In their mission policy, Google describe their number 1 approach to business on the web as such:
“Focus on the user and all else will follow”.
Advertising is meant to enhance the user experience, and to show you ads that are relevant to you and will enrich your browsing experience.
Google does this by showing you ads based on websites you visit, keywords that you have been searching for, and topics that you’re in the habit of reading about on the Internet. The idea here is to make your life easier by putting the things you want right in front of you. HOWEVER, as I’m sure we all know, this can get out of hand.
So maybe you visited a jewellery website by mistake, and now your girlfriend keeps seeing ads for engagement rings all over your browser… Or you searched for “best insurance company in SA” 3 months ago and are still seeing insurance ads dotted all over the place annoying the hell out of you.
GOOD NEWS! Google keeps a record of your “web interaction profile” - Here’s how you can change it.
1. Make sure you’re logged in to Google.
If you use any Google products such as YouTube or Gmail, you will most likely already be logged in. To check, go to Google.co.za - If you see your face / name in the top right corner, you’re logged in.
If not - click “Sign In” and use your login details that you have for any Google product (YouTube, Gmail, Google+, etc. They will all use the same login)
2. Go to the Google Ad Settings page.
Here you will see all the attributes about you and your browsing habits that are responsible for the ads you see.
3. Simply change what you don’t like!
Scroll down to “Interests”, click “Edit” and remove whatever doesn’t actually interest you - and Voila! A better web experience, just like that.
4. Want to go off-grid? Think twice…
You will also notice an option to “Opt out” of interest based targeting, and this may seem tempting, but BEWARE, this is not recommended. This will NOT stop you from seeing ads, but only from seeing ads that are tailored to you - You will just end up seeing random meaningless advertising from all around the world.