As many of our clients already know, Google tailors its ad rotations partly based on visitor interests. What this means is that if you repeatedly visit a site about, say, classic rock, than you will eventually start seeing more targeted ads related to classic rock. The more you visit a particular category of site, the more personalized your ad experience will be. So what does Google think it knows about what you like and how do you change what ads Google shows you? It’s easy to find out, change and even opt out of interest based ads all from the Google Ad Settings page in your Google Account Settings.
As you can see in the above image, there are two columns of settings. On the left, Google services. On the right, everything else. Your Gender and Age are taken from your Google+ Profile, while languages are determined by the languages of the websites you visit.
The next section, Interests, is where you have the most control and can see what Google thinks it knows about your interests. There is a setting for both Google Services and the web and in our experience, each varied considerably, so it’s worth checking out both.
At the top of the list, you can easily add your own interests to make the ads you do see much more informative than what you currently see. You can also hover over any item and press the X to remove it from your list. Clicking OK will take you back to the main Ads Settings page where you can see if you have blocked any specific campaigns (According to Google: By blocking an ad, that ad and any other ad linking to that website will no longer appear in your Gmail, Google Search, or Google ads across the web as long as you’re signed in. This does not apply to ads on YouTube.)
The last setting on the page is for those of you who for whatever reason don’t want interest based ads. Most of us at Vestra Interactive would rather see ads tailored to our interests than generic ads that have little relevance to our likes and dislikes, so we left this setting alone. Android users can also open the Google Settings app and opt out of interest-based ads on their mobile devices. We should tell you that, according to Google, opting out on your Android is not an order to developers, but merely a guideline and it will not take immediate effect. So even if you opt out, expect targeted ads for a while.