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Google makes user ad controls a priority

User-controlled advertising

Google has introduced a new option named Mute This Ad, allowing AdWords users to influence the type of advertisements presented to them.

This is not only the latest step in awarding users more control and improving their online experience, but also means advertisers' campaigns won't be wasted on those unlikely to respond to them - thereby reaching a more concentrated, relevant set of potential consumers.

Mutual benefits

Successful online advertising is all about balance. On one side is the audience, seeking information or entertainment; while on the other side are businesses, which want to draw attention to specific products or services.

There is also a contrast in the way in which this audience is perceived, as they regard themselves as individual viewers, visitors, users, shoppers or even appreciators of art; while to advertisers they represent target demographic sectors.

There is nothing wrong with either of these perspectives - but, for a happy coexistence, some degree of mutual understanding is required. Some marketers and advertisers are so wrapped up in promoting their wares that they forget the aim is to capture an audience, resulting in hard-sell streams of ads and social media updates that are more likely to irritate than engage.

Equally, some users are so busy getting worked up about adverts they dislike that they don't realise they have the choice to control them, to a great degree.

So, how does the new ad control work?

Mute This Ad is Google's latest attempt to put users in touch with more relevant advertisements. An 'x' will appear in the corner of some Google display ads, which the user can click to avoid seeing more ads from the same campaign.

A message will confirm that this type of ad has been 'muted', while also offering a link to Google's Ad Preferences Manager to give the user even more control of what they see. This practice will enable Google to collect data to better understand which campaigns are most successful (or actively disliked) - which, in turn, is also useful for advertisers.

Is it similar to AdChoices?

Google AdChoices is a feature within Google's AdSense programme which enables users to learn more about the campaigns presented to them.

Formerly known as Ads By Google, it takes the form of a small triangle in the corner of an advertisement. When clicked upon, it transports the user directly to Google's Ads Preferences Manager, where they can absorb general information about online advertising and particular ads they've seen, as well as indicating their future preferences.

Its presentation is therefore similar to Mute This Ad, but its function is different, as it is aimed at users of AdSense rather than AdWords and acts more as a resource than an immediate preventative measure.

Other Google features which help users maintain control include YouTube's TrueView, which allows ads to be skipped before a video is viewed; and Why This Ad? within Google search, which offers a similar function to AdChoices.

Don't forget the ad itself

Of course, once a business's adverts have reached the intended, receptive target audience, it is important that they are appealing enough to encourage further interest.

Advertisements should never be a nuisance. Indeed, in the best cases, they can be a respected creative force. With the breadth of mediums available online, a top priority for every advertiser should be creating a multi-pronged campaign in which all elements complement each other.

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