A couple weeks ago I was attending a panel discussion at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in DC (featuring our very own Mike “Gillette Mach 3” Shaver) when Betsy, from Google Economics, started talking about their behaviour-based advertising.
She was making a point about how Google gives users control over the kind of ads they see, and she mentioned this:
I think I always knew that the “Ads by Google” text at the bottom of ads was clickable – I’ve probably even clicked it. Historically though, it’s just been a sales pitch for would-be advertisers and content authors. Now, when you click on it (go on, there’s one at the bottom of this post), there’s a link to your very own “Ad Preferences Manager.”
This page tells you what Google thinks you’re interested in based on the browsing habits it’s observed, and hence what kinds of ads it wants to show you (seriously, go check it out). It also gives you the option to add/remove interests, or opt out entirely.
Betsy, from Google, was talking about how they had been trying to really get the word out to people about this interface, so that people could control their ad experience. I wasn’t sure whether that message was reaching people – even people who might care about the information advertisers collect.
A couple of questions, then:
- Did you know about this page?
- Do the contents there surprise you? How accurate are they?
- How does it all make you feel? Are you more comfortable, knowing that you have some control? Or are you less comfortable, seeing the profile laid out like that?
- Did you make any changes while you were there?