Owing to the forceful entry of the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short, advertising messages that are displayed directly to us on the Internet have undergone a significant crack down. In recent days, Google has adapted to the regulation’s requirements and has enabled us to opt out of the personalisation of advertising content and the verification of the categories we have been sorted into.
Who are you? Google already knows…
In the not so distant past, just below the main buttons on the Google homepage: Google search and I’m Feeling Lucky, there was the possibility to change the ad profiling settings for your account. Initially, you could here receive information about the current status of the settings determining your search results, as well as accessing the possibility of completely disabling personalisation attributes. There are the details of our account below – this is how Google “sees” us and it also highlights where we have the ability to change our individual elements.
In my case, I almost agree with everything that Google displays in the first positions. I am a man at the age of 32, I have been frequently asking the search engine for National Express information recently and I was looking at Accounting and Auditing news online. If, however, it turns out that any of the above factors are ascribed to my ‘personality’ incorrectly and, as such, does not match who I am and how I search, I have the option to remove it from the list.
Turning off personalisation
Of course, there is also the possibility to completely disable the personalisation of all advertisements. Does this mean that ads will stop being displayed to me? Absolutely not. All it means is that ads will not use behavioural guidelines when ‘deciding’ what to present and will therefore cease to showcase ads adapted to our needs and online behaviour. This means that there is a high likelihood of a deluge of totally accidental ads appearing to you instead, bringing to you display marketing at the level otherwise experienced in TV commercials. Google warns us that this means that ads will be much less interesting than their profiled counterparts. The lack of any possibility of ad targeting can lead to most of the ad manifestations becoming reasonably annoying. In addition, we will also be banning ourselves from being able to block ads from specific advertisers.
However, it’s worth noting that despite disabling personalisation, ads can still be shown to us based on general factors, such as the subject of the pages we view, the time of day and our general location.
Why you’re seeing this ad?
The “why you’re seeing this ad” question, which we already know well from the search results page and in our Gmail mailbox, will also be displayed in all places where display ads appear. That is: on YouTube, Google Maps, Google Play and almost all websites and applications that are part of the Google Partner Program.
We survived AdBlock and we will survive GDPR
So, what should advertisers and Google do in this situation? First of all: educate! The intention of GDPR is to limit the possibilities of companies that use consumer data unethically and not to reduce the quality of advertisements. In fact, our ability to interfere in the way that Google sees us can turn out for the best. If, up until now, ads for cosmetics were displayed regularly and that it made us nervous because it does not quite correspond with our interests, we can now check if there is such a factor in our profile and subsequently remove it. What else can the industry do? Generally speaking, a good job. If display ads (and in general, ads on the web) are useful to users, they will not want to turn them off. As a result, the advertising blocking tools will perhaps be less popular. Going forward, we can treat the current situation as a type of challenge and impetus to foster more effective working practices.