By default, ads shown on Google sites are tailored based on previous searches, watched YouTube videos, and more Google-related history. Now, Google is rolling out (via Wired) a new opt-in setting that will apply the same personalization to ads seen on third-party sites. Additionally, a new My Activity tool shows a combined timeline of previously visited websites, voice searches, and more.

In the coming days, Google users will receive a notification directing them to check their security settings. A new option asks if users want personalized ads based on age, gender, and search history to show up on third-party sites. By opting in, users will be able to edit and block ads across any device logged in with a Google account. This is a big statement from Google, as many ad networks run by other companies require users to opt out of personalization.

Ads on Google sites like Gmail and YouTube already do this, but previously cookies were used to deliver personalized and relevant ads on other sites. Otherwise, ads are based on factors like location and are generally less relevant. The option (and the notification) is still rolling out and is not yet appearing for all Google Accounts.

In conjunction with the new opt-in ad tracking, Google launched a revamped My Activity site that shows Chrome web history, Now cards activity, and more in a chronological timeline. Users can go back to any day to see activity and delete specific entries. The site is particularly useful when looking for a previously visited site or watched video. A search tool lets users search by date and by Google product.

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: