To allay privacy concerns about its ad-centric business model, Google since 2009 has maintained a centralized dashboard to control ads, with later tools allowing for muting and seeing why a specific ad was displayed. The latest change today redesigns Ad Settings with a focus on making it easier for users to understand and control.

The new dashboard on mobile takes advantage of the Google Material Theme with “Google Ad Settings” at the center of the app bar and stark white background. The first option is a toggle to enable/disable “Ad personalization,” which the company says makes ads more useful on Search, YouTube, and other products.

Underneath, Google provides a brief explanation of how ads are personalized:

Ads are based on personal info you’ve added to your Google Account, data from advertisers that partner with Google, and Google’s estimation of your interests. Choose any factor to learn more or update your preferences.

The rest of the page is a list of what Google knows about your interests and in turn uses to offer targeted ads. High-level categories include your age range and gender that when tapped opens a card that features a graphic and notes where the information was gleamed from, as well as the ability to update the information in settings.

In the first two cases, the information was directly added by the user, but in categories like “Action & Adventure Films” and “Business News” this information is derived from:

Google estimates this interest, based on your activity on Google services (ex: Search, YouTube) while you were signed in.

Every specific interest can be opted out of with a “turn off” button at the bottom of the card. Disabled ones are moved to a “What you’ve turned off section” at the bottom of this “Active factors” list. Heading back into the card allows users to re-enable the interest.

Turning off a factor means you’ll no longer receive tailored ads related to it across our services, and on websites and apps that partner with us to show ads, as long as you’re signed in to your Google Account. The ads you see can still be based on general factors, like the subject of what you’re looking at or the time of day, or any other factor that is still turned on.

Meanwhile, Google has expanded the “Why this ad?” feature to all of its services that display Google ads, including YouTube, Google, Gmail, Maps, and Search. In the case of YouTube, this includes all devices and clients, like apps on smart TVs. The company also worked with third-party websites and apps that use Google advertising to show the descriptor on “almost all” partner content.

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About the Author

Abner Li

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