Targeted ads explained: Should you worry about Google Ads tracking you?

google ads

Wayne is a little bit concerned about the ads he sees online, which seem to track his internet browsing. Should he be worried?

Q. I keep noticing the same ads popping up all over the internet, and they seem to be tracking me. Recently I looked into some flights and now everywhere I go online there are always ads for plane tickets to Sydney. How do they know I was looking at flights and should I be worried?

A. To put things simply, no, you should not be worried. The ads that you are seeing all over the internet are most likely Google Ads, one of the most commonly used forms of online advertising. If you find the interest-based ads (the ones which serve ads to you based on your internet browsing history) unsettling or invasive, read on to find out how you can deactivate them.

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads are a form of online advertisement that operates through Google’s advertising platform on websites and in search results. When a business creates a campaign on Google Ads, they select specific keywords that they want their ads to appear for when someone searches for those keywords on Google. For example, if a business sells running shoes, they might select keywords such as “running shoes,” “sneakers,” and “athletic footwear.” When a user searches for any of those terms, the business’s ad may appear at the top of the search results page.

Google Ads also allows businesses to target specific geographic locations, so they can reach customers in their local area. Additionally, businesses can target specific demographics, such as age and gender, to ensure their ads are reaching the right audience.

But why do people often see the same ads over and over again? This is because Google Ads uses a system called remarketing, which allows businesses to show ads to people who have already visited their website. For example, if a person visits a running shoe website but leaves without making a purchase, the business can use remarketing to show ads for their running shoes on other websites the person visits. This is why people may see the same ads for a product they were browsing on different websites, as businesses are trying to remind them of their product and encourage them to make a purchase.

While some people may find it annoying to see the same ads repeatedly, it’s important to remember that these ads are targeted to your interests and browsing history. Google Ads is designed to show you ads that are relevant to you, based on your online behavior and search history. This means that if you’re seeing the same ads frequently, it’s likely because you’ve shown an interest in that product or service.

Why am I being served dodgy ads?

It’s worth noting that Google Ads has strict policies in place to ensure that ads are not intrusive or misleading. Ads must meet certain guidelines regarding their content, size, and placement on a website. 

Due to the immense scale of Google Ads, some dodgy ads are bound to squeeze through the cracks, despite both Google and individual website’s best efforts to stop them. Google Ads allows users to report any ads they believe are inappropriate or misleading, which helps maintain the integrity of the platform.

How can I deactivate personalised ads?

To deactivate Google’s personalised advertisements, visit this page and look at the top right of the page, there you can toggle personalised ads on and off.

You can also choose to deactivate specific ads by clicking the X icon in the corner of the ad and selecting ‘Stop seeing this ad’.

So if you’re concerned about seeing the same ads repeatedly, don’t worry. It’s simply a result of Google Ads’ remarketing feature, which is designed to remind you of products or services you’ve shown an interest in. 

Do you have personalised ads turned on? Do you noticed your ads are often for similar things you’ve recently searched for? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: How to add a signature in Google Docs

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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