Tag Archives: PPC

Is Google’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ad the future of paid voice search?

Google sparked a small firestorm last week as reports surfaced that its intelligent assistant device Google Home had delivered what appeared to be an unsolicited advertisement to unsuspecting owners.

The reports first emerged on Reddit and Twitter, where users who own Google Home devices posted that Google slipped in an ad for Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast movie.

As one user explained on Reddit:

This morning while I was getting ready for work, I did my usual “Okay Google, good morning”. After information about the time and weather, my google home said something along the lines of “By the way, Beauty and The Beast opens in theaters today. In this version, Belle is the inventor. Sounds more like it to me.”

A mixed response from Home owners

Not surprisingly, many of the Google Home owners who heard the ad were not pleased. “Why in hell would I ever pay someone else to advertise to me, in the privacy of my own home no less?” one Twitter user asked.

“Wow, Google. You were doing so much better than Siri. Then you just threw that all away. Siri may suck right now at many things, but at least I know that Apple will never inject her with ads,” a Redditor wrote.

Other comments suggested that some consumers would no longer consider purchasing Google Home based on the presence of advertising.

But according to Google, the ad wasn’t an ad. First, a spokesperson told Business Insider, “This isn’t an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales.”

Later, as video of the ad playing made the rounds, Google followed up with another statement.

“This wasn’t intended to be an ad. What’s circulating online was a part of our My Day feature, where after providing helpful information about your day, we sometimes call out timely content. We’re continuing to experiment with new ways to surface unique content for users and we could have done better in this case.”

Unfortunately for Google, if it walks and talks like an ad, it’s probably going to be considered… an ad. At least by consumers and the media.

The future of monetizing voice search?

Of course, Google is one of the most powerful ad companies in the world, so the fact that it experimented with an audio ad on Google Home isn’t exactly surprising.

As more and more consumers interact with devices that have intelligent assistants, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, it’s natural that companies in the digital advertising ecosystem are going to be interested in experimenting with audio ads, which could be a killer app for monetizing these devices.

For Google, the interest is potentially necessary. After all, if more and more consumers come to search for information through voice-based intelligent assistants instead of screen-based devices, it could have a negative impact on Google’s other ad products, especially AdWords.

 

There has been some speculation in the search industry about whether we might see a transition to a “SERP-less search” as voice search becomes more mainstream.

In this eventuality, there has always been the question of what might happen to paid search, and how search engines would monetize the new SERP-less landscape. Well, we may have just found the answer to that question.

In spite of Google’s denials that the Beauty and the Beast product placement was an ad, we could be looking at – or listening to – the future of paid voice search.

 

A version of this article, ‘Has advertising arrived on Google Home?’ originally appeared on our sister site ClickZ.

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Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

Advertising has always been about emotions. Emotions lead to actions and, as such, influencing emotions is the most effective route to influencing actions.

Actions, in turn, become habits, and these habits are the driving force that creates global brands. Marketers have never hesitated to exploit this relationship – in fact you could even argue that it’s the job of a marketer to do so.

But we aren’t capable of influencing everything that drives human behavior. In his classic 1895 work on human psychology, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, Gustave Le Bon wrote:

“The greater part of our daily actions are the result of hidden motives which escape our observation.”

This holds true today, and it unsettles us as digital marketers. The utopian message that underpins our industry is that everything is measurable, with Google AdWords the gold standard bearer in this regard.

Le Bon’s statement is a truism that haunts Facebook, which offers a new form of engagement between consumers and brands, but has been plagued by measurement scandals of late.

Google’s great success has always been in that accurate measurement of actions, and the easily calculable positive ROI that CMOs crave.

Facebook brings that paradox inherent in the quotes from Le Bon and Bernays back to the fore in our industry, as it simply isn’t sufficient to measure actions alone on Facebook.

Google is not immune to these criticisms, either. We have seen this in quite sensationalist terms recently, with Google’s YouTube and Display Network coming under fire for a lack of control on their placements.

This is all the more shocking because we feel let down when the realization hits home that, within current technological restraints, perfect targeting and measurement aren’t quite within our grasp.

Why have we strayed from campaigns designed to shape emotion?

In digital marketing – particularly in search – the truth is that we have never really aimed to shape emotions in our audiences. We understand that emotion is an important driver, but it lends itself more readily to what some dismiss as ‘fluffy metrics’. Therefore, this lies outside the realm of the cold, hard numbers that we take to represent the ineluctable truth of campaign success or failure.

This makes sense, placed in context. As a direct response mechanism, search comes into play once the work to shape emotions has already been done. To be successful, we need to make optimal use of those efforts (TV campaigns, for example), or make up for branding shortfalls, to maximize sales.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

That role is slowly changing, and in fact it must do so, if the same companies who managed Google PPC campaigns are now planning to engage in Facebook, Pinterest or Snapchat advertising.

Although all are driven by the auction-based bidding systems that PPC specialists have come to master, the core aspect that will determine the fate of each campaign is an element we have focused on much less in the past: creative assets.

To date, we have come to understand what behavior is, but we still don’t understand why consumers take the actions that they do.

The challenge of measuring emotion online

Leaving aside the ongoing battle between Facebook and Google over data ownership, notably the difficulties in sharing data across their reporting platforms, the fact of the matter is that we will never be comparing apples to apples when we assess these two rivals.

Put simply, the most successful Facebook campaigns manage to shape emotions through great creative, and drive actions through intelligent targeting.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

However, even with that in mind, until it cracks measurement Facebook will not be able to overtake Google as the digital advertiser’s go-to platform. Reliable tracking and measurement are non-negotiable aspects of a digital campaign, no matter how great the possibilities may be for using more aspirational creative messaging.

Applying a rational framework to an irrational interaction will inevitably and invariably come up short, but it’s the best we have. Measuring the subconscious is an undeniably complex task, but it is of pressing significance as brand spend slowly permeates its way into digital channels.

Just 5% of content attracts 90% of total digital engagement, so clearly we’re getting this wrong so far. In fact, 95% of all content out there is getting single-digit views.

That level of inefficiency is unsustainable, so we simply need to get better at understanding our audience.

Whoever manages to resolve this paradox could gain access to significant branding budgets, so it should be no surprise that the usual suspects are investing heavily in this area.

How are the tech giants approaching this?

The approaches taken by Google, Apple and Facebook fall broadly into two camps: biometrics and neuroscience.

Progress has been swifter in the former camp, but we should not surmise from these advancements that biometrics alone will provide the answers we seek.

Biometrics techniques measure physical characteristics (pupil dilation and facial expressions, for example), while neuroscience is the study of brain functions and patterns of brain activity. Both tasks are Herculean, but the big tech companies are more likely to make notable gains with biometrics in the short-term.

Google and ‘Satisfaction Value’

Google is planning to incorporate biometrics techniques into its search algorithms, which will also be driven by reinforcement learning.

SEO by the Sea reported on a very interesting patent last year, which contains this image:

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

This is a crudely-drawn example, and perhaps reflects how far Google still have to go in this field, but it is a mixture of exciting and disconcerting. Google has termed this metric ‘satisfaction value’, and the measurement of facial expressions will no doubt be viewed in some quarters as overly intrusive.

Google’s Jeff Dean made the following comments to Fortune magazine, which shed some further light on what is going on here:

“It is like in a board game where you can react to how your opponent plays. Eventually after a whole sequence of these actions you get some sort of reward signal.

An example of a messier reinforcement learning problem is perhaps trying to use it in what search results should I show.

There’s a much broader set of search results I can show in response to different queries, and the reward signal is a little noisy.

Like if a user looks at a search result and likes it or doesn’t like it, that’s not that obvious.”

It’s not that obvious, but it could be discernible if Google had access to more data and more sophisticated technology in this field.

The patent also reveals that Google aims to make use of other biometric parameters, including eye twitching, facial flushing, heart rate, body temperature, and blink rate.

As with all such moves, we can expect this to happen incrementally, to the extent that consumers may not even notice these features slowly make their way into their daily lives.

Biometric measurement is just phase one, of course. Facial expressions are limited and open to interpretation, so Google and its rivals will be looking for a further level of confirmation before using this as conclusive evidence.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

Neuroscience may ultimately provide the answers to the eternal questions of what really drives people to take actions, but this field understandably will take longer to arrive at those conclusions.

Google is certainly not alone in investing heavily in this area. Just last year, Apple acquired Emotient, a tech company that uses artificial intelligence to infer emotions from facial expressions.

The stage has been set and, given Apple and Google’s respective shares of the smartphone market, once the technology has been mastered, its mainstream adoption will occur quickly – maybe even surreptitiously.

From emotion to action, from action to habit

It is worth considering the vast array of data sources already at our disposal, along with the hardware and software that seek to unite this into one unified view. The average consumer is in possession of products built by exactly the same companies that seek to harness their personal information for commercial gain.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

If tracking and measurement catch up with these developments, there may come a time in the not-too-distant future when reporting dashboards and planning documents pay heed to metrics that go far beyond estimated CTR and CPM, to assess the anticipated emotional reaction their creative assets will attract.

Biometrics and neuroscience: The future of digital analytics?

That is an alluring prospect and is one that allow our industry to develop significantly, with the possibilities for click fraud reduced and the rewards for useful content increased.

For now, it would be fair to surmise that digital marketers do not refuse to acknowledge the role of emotion in driving actions; it is rather the case that we have made a rod for our own back by insisting on the measurability of everything we do. Until emotion becomes measurable as a contributor towards improved performance, this area may remain an untapped source of creative inspiration.

However, with the collective might of Google, Facebook and Apple, fed by the hastening effect fierce competition has on progress, we may soon enter a fascinating and illuminating era for digital marketing.

The culmination of this process could ultimately see us deliver on the goal of measuring the motives which have, thus far, escaped our observation.

Beware these 7 sneaky PPC attribution tricks

You may think you're hitting your conversion goals, but columnist Andrew Goodman warns that faulty attribution can lead to inaccurate or misleading performance data. The post Beware these 7 sneaky PPC attribution tricks appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
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Can Google get users on board with “shortcuts in search”?

Google announced yesterday the launch of “shortcuts in search”, which will allow Android users (only in the US, for now) to access quick answers on a range of topics with the touch of a button.

Fittingly, Google has termed these “tappable shortcuts” and they will lead searchers to instantaneous information on dozens of topics, including sports, restaurants, local amenities, and entertainment.

The new feature is available within the Google app in the US, although users will have to upgrade the app to the latest version before the shortcuts are accessible.

As Google continues its relentless release of new mobile-first products, this announcement is entirely aligned with the search engine’s strategy to keep pace with – and anticipate – trends in user behavior.

Tappable shortcuts lend themselves to a search experience that is more open-ended in nature than traditional Google queries. Notably, they also remove a fundamental element of the Google experience: either typing or voicing a query.

In a wider ecosystem that now includes maps, the knowledge graph, and structured data, it is understandable that Google has chosen to make this move now. With the addition to their fold of hardware like Google Home and the Pixel smartphones, combined with an upgraded Assistant on all Android phones, Google seems closer than ever to unifying the digital user journey.

The following (very short) video was also released yesterday to demonstrate how ‘shortcuts in search’ will work:

But will this initiative take off, what will it mean for SEO, and how will Google manage to integrate paid ads into this new search experience?

Will Google convince users to get on board?

The first phase will be to convince its vast user base to transition across to this way of discovering information.

The actual functionality underpinning this change has not been updated; it is merely a more streamlined way to surface information. Google Now has offered access to many of these features for some time, but user behaviors can be slow to change.

One could even suggest that this launch is Google giving a nudge to the public to show them just how much is possible through their products now.

Can Google get users on board with “shortcuts in search”?

At SMX West yesterday, Google’s Jason Douglas summarised one of their core objectives as simply trying to find the “easiest way to help the user get things done.”

No doubt, achieving that goal would go some way to convince people to take the small step of updating an app.

A mass migration of users to this app would have myriad benefits for Google. By keeping users enclosed within its own ecosystem of information, Google gains access to their data and, just as crucially, keeps those users out of Facebook’s grasp.

With machine learning at the core of everything Google does now, all of that data will only serve to improve the accuracy of search results, and those improved results will convince users to stay on the app.

How will Google rank these results?

This is an important question for SEO professionals, although it is a little early to answer it conclusively. Its degree of importance will also, of course, depend on just how many users elect to search by tapping on shortcuts.

Can Google get users on board with “shortcuts in search”?

Intriguingly, Jason Douglas implied at SMX West yesterday that as part of the wider Actions on Google initiative, consumers will be able to set preferences, not just on their sports teams or favorite restaurants, but also on the brands they like most.

Douglas went on to add:

“We’re trying to decide now how sticky those preferences should be. In some cases, you can set some preferences in the app. We’re trying to learn as we go. For shopping, is it convenience or best price that matters most? There are a lot of new ranking and quality challenges.”

The ramifications of that statement could be far-reaching, and it is understandable that Douglas chose to equivocate slightly on these points, refusing to take a definitive stance on such an important point.

Nonetheless, it is certainly plausible that user ‘preferences’ on certain brands would factor into personalized organic search results.

The advice to SEOs in that eventuality is as trite as it is true; all we can do is create great content and exceptional user experiences to ensure we make our way onto the preferred brands list.

Will Google offer paid placements?

Google has been open in stating that this new environment presents a huge challenge to its paid search business. Voice search is best suited to providing just one answer, which leaves little room for paid placements.

Can Google get users on board with “shortcuts in search”?

The inherent complexities for an auction-based bidding model like AdWords in this scenario are subtle and difficult to disentangle, but this is especially true if users state an overt preference for one brand over another.

For example, if a user has selected Kayak as a preferred flight aggregator over Skyscanner, how would that affect the price each would have to pay to rank first on that user’s travel searches? How would Google factor that into its auctions, at a grand scale?

If Skyscanner did choose to pay an inflated rate for first position, how would that sit with the user, who no doubt would recall selecting Kayak as their preferred brand?

These are challenges that Google is all too aware of, but there can be little doubt that ultimately, they will find a way to monetize this trend if it does take off.

What should we expect next?

We should expect any attempts to monetize this to be tentative at first – especially in the wake of the opprobrium raised by the recent ‘Ads on Google Home’ fiasco.

That said, Google’s decision to make these updates has been driven by what it foresees to be a new way of discovering information.

Therefore, we can first expect Google to entice users to use its new range of hardware and software through their ubiquity and ease of use, before making those first forays into transforming its paid search model to an interaction that no longer requires a user to search.

SearchCap: Google warrant, PPC teams & AMP

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. The post SearchCap: Google warrant, PPC teams & AMP appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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SearchCap: Chrome without GoogleBot, stacked PPC bidding & local SEO

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. The post SearchCap: Chrome without GoogleBot, stacked PPC bidding & local SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
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Chrome Extensions: A vehicle for Amazon and Pinterest to compete with Google?

Search advertising has swelled to become an industry worth over $35 billion annually, yet it is still heavily driven by text-based searches and dominated by Google.

However as Google’s index goes mobile-first, consumers get to grips with voice search, and technology advances to avail of image identification in our predominantly visual culture, new opportunities are opening up for the competition.

One such opportunity lies in the use of Google’s own Chrome web browser, which allows companies (including Google’s rivals) to develop and disseminate extensions to grow their digital footprint.

This may not necessitate or even facilitate a seismic shift in the industry, if Google continues to provide a search product that responds best to a user’s query.

Undoubtedly, Google remains the go-to location when consumers know what they want; but what if other providers could get in on the act earlier, by nudging consumers towards products they hadn’t thought of or never knew existed? What if consumers start to move away from text queries, and image or voice search become the norm?

These are the questions Amazon and Pinterest are pondering as they look to break Google’s hegemonic hold on the market. This has seen both companies launch paid search products, but something significant has to give if consumers are to switch from the well-worn habit of reaching out to Google first.

Intriguingly, recent moves suggest Amazon and Pinterest are prepared to use Google’s own Chrome platform to loosen the search giant’s iron grip on ad revenues, with what are at times aggressive tactics.

Although some commonalities exist across both challengers, there is much to distinguish them too. We’ll begin with Amazon’s Chrome extension before moving on to Pinterest’s recently-upgraded offering.

Amazon Assistant for Chrome

Amazon’s Assistant tracks users as they browse other sites and locates opportunities to alert them of better deals on the same product over at Amazon.com.

This feature looks something like this in action:

Chrome Extensions: A vehicle for Amazon and Pinterest to compete with Google?

No doubt, this is an overbearing approach designed to have the maximum disruptive impact on a consumer’s experience, diverting their path to purchase towards the comfort of Amazon’s one-click purchases and free deliveries. And all at a lower price, too.

There are reports of some websites blocking the extension and, in the pettiest of cases, ensuring that low quality images of products are used when a consumer adds them to their Amazon wish list, in the hope of dissuading them from finishing the purchase there.

However, the damage may well be done by that stage. Digital consumers vote with their fingers, and people tend to follow where the best deals are.

Where this gets particularly fascinating for those of us in the search industry is when we apply this Chrome extension to Google search results pages.

With the extension downloaded (I am based in the US), a clearly commercial query like [laptops] returns the following results:

Chrome Extensions: A vehicle for Amazon and Pinterest to compete with Google?

Indeed, those are Amazon results at the very top of the page.

This very assertive approach sees Amazon encroach directly on Google’s owned space, in fact relegating them to a lower position.

Even a much less commercial query returns this option to purchase from Amazon:

Chrome Extensions: A vehicle for Amazon and Pinterest to compete with Google?

It is noteworthy that while no advertisers are bidding on the term [john berger and our faces my heart brief as photos] via Google, Amazon’s search engine has a match for the query and, therefore, it shows an ad above the Google results.

I have seen this occur for about a month now (on other, less obscure queries) and, even if Google moves to shut this down in future, it is a clear and overt statement of intent from Amazon.

A look at the terms and conditions for the Amazon Assistant reveals how this is happening.

The list of information gathered by Amazon is extensive (to the extent of being troubling) and includes the following statement:

“We will collect and store information such as the name and price of the product, the webpage on which the item is sold, your Amazon account, your search query, and other information.”

Nested in there is the operative phrase “your search query”. By capturing a search query, Amazon can cross-reference its own inventory to see whether there is a match and dynamically serve the available options.

The aim, evidently, is to create an ‘all roads lead to Amazon’ approach within e-commerce, and the only way to do that right now is to take market share directly from Google and other retailers.

Chrome Extensions: A vehicle for Amazon and Pinterest to compete with Google?

Strategically, this makes a lot of sense. Each of the main players would love to have a self-enclosed ecosystem that houses billions of users and all of their accompanying data.

Only Facebook can lay even tenuous claim to such a lofty ambition, so for the likes of Pinterest and Amazon there is no other option than to reach beyond their own platforms and observe, ready for the opportune moment to communicate with consumers.

Amazon, therefore, has adopted the assumption that consumers will swallow any level of intrusion into their data and their online experience if they ultimately end up with a better deal on products.

Pinterest has a rather different market position, user base, and approach to search. So how do these take shape within their revamped Chrome extension?

Pinterest save button

We have written about the advances in visual search taking place on Pinterest recently, but use of that technology is of course dependent on people visiting their site initially to conduct a search.

What the browser extension can now become is a vehicle to carry that technology to a much wider arena, to any site Pinterest users (or ‘Pinners’) visit.

In their blog post announcing the launch, Pinterest stated that the latest iteration of their Chrome extension will allow consumers to conduct a visual search using any image or webpage they visit.

The screenshot below is an example of this in action, with a user selecting the sunglasses within the image and Pinterest suggesting a variety of similar products to browse:

Chrome Extensions: A vehicle for Amazon and Pinterest to compete with Google?

This provides access to Pinterest’s vast database of images and its industry-leading image recognition software, without even having to visit the Pinterest site. All of this occurs while the user stays on the original web page, only moving them to Pinterest if they click on one of the suggested images.

Another striking aspect of the blog post comes in this statement:

“Now anything you see on Pinterest, or capture with the camera in your Pinterest app, can kick off a search for great ideas—all without typing a single character.”

The business strategy here is not to tackle Google head on à la Amazon, but rather to engage users before they even know what they want to type. As such, the aim is to offer a different experience altogether, driven uniquely by images.

When we think of search, we think of Google, paid ads, and ten blue links. But by stepping into an area that pre-dates those steps in a consumer’s mind, Pinterest may find a niche that Google has not yet managed to tap into just yet.

Chrome Extensions: A vehicle for Amazon and Pinterest to compete with Google?

The language used in the announcement is notable too, if we compare Amazon and Pinterest; in place of ‘products’, read ‘ideas’, for example. This is a subtle but telling distinction, with Pinterest looking to claim the more aspirational ground within the e-commerce search market.

Pinterest’s new visual search functionality will extend to other browser extensions “soon” and will allow brands to opt out, but Pinterest is of course hoping that the mutual benefits will outweigh the inconveniences for retailers. As is the case with Amazon, the force of consumer demand will ultimately drive (or halt) the extension’s adoption and acceptance.

What should marketers make of this?

Competition breeds innovation and search has been close to a monopoly for too long, in that sense. Google evolves and new products are rolled out constantly, but these are often tantamount to slightly bigger versions of the PPC ads we had yesterday, or an increasingly inconspicuous ‘Ad’ label.

Competition also increases scarcity, of course, and scarcity drives up prices. We have seen this with Google CPC prices and more recently on Facebook, so the diversification of options for advertisers could help to stem that tide.

Pinterest’s global head of partnerships, Jon Kaplan, has even been quoted recently saying, “You might see a pretty steep discount”, when comparing their inventory prices to Facebook or Google.

The possibility of another major player in this arena, be it Amazon, Pinterest, or both, should therefore be welcomed by consumers and advertisers alike. By everyone except Google and Facebook, in fact.

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Paid search professionals might be nervous about losing their jobs to automation, but columnist Anna Shirley makes the case that PPC automation may actually benefit them. The post Should PPC agencies be scared of automation? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
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How to turn off ad tracking in Google, Bing and Yahoo!

We all know that our favorite search engines track and collect a lot of data about us in order to personalize the results – and the ads – that they serve us.

But that kind of tracking might not always be welcome, especially when it means that you have ads following you around the internet from a site where you bought a gift for a friend once, or for pregnancy products months after you’ve given birth. Or maybe you just don’t like your data being collected and used in this way.

Luckily, there is a way to get rid of them, as long as you know where to look.

Note that these methods won’t stop Google, Bing et al from showing you ads altogether, but they will keep them from using your profile information and online activity to target ads at you.

Google

First, navigate to myaccount.google.com, which can also be accessed from the Google homepage by selecting the little ‘grid’ icon in the corner next to ‘Images’, and selecting My Account.

Under ‘Personal info and privacy’, select ‘Ads settings’, then ‘Manage ads settings’ to get to the main ads dashboard.

To turn interest-based ad targeting off completely, toggle ‘Ads personalization’ from ON to OFF. If you don’t want to turn ad targeting off altogether, but want to fine-tune it, you can uncheck certain options from the ‘Your topics’ checklist lower down, until only the relevant topics are left.

How to turn off ad tracking in Google, Bing and Yahoo!

To permanently save your opt-out preference, there is a link right at the bottom of the page which allows you to install the DoubleClick opt-out plugin. This will keep your opt-out status for that browser even if you later clear all cookies.

You can go one further than this and disable ad personalization for the Google ads you see when you’re signed out and across other online ad networks that work with Google. To do this, select ‘Visit AdChoices’ at the bottom of the page. This will take you to a new page that displays a list of different companies and whether they are currently delivering ads based on your interests.

 How to turn off ad tracking in Google, Bing and Yahoo!

You can then toggle individual companies on or off, or to disable ad tracking for all companies, scroll down and a dialog box will appear with the option to ‘Turn off all companies’. (You will need to have Javascript enabled in order for the page to work properly).

There is one other way that you can disable ad personalization on Google, if you’re a user of Google Chrome. Navigate to your browser settings (accessed by selecting the three vertical dots icon in the top-right corner of your screen) and select ‘Show advanced settings…’

Under ‘Privacy’, select ‘Send a “Do Not Track” request with your browsing traffic’. The effect this has will depend on whether a website responds to the request, and how it is interpreted, but some websites will respond by showing ads which aren’t related to your browsing history.

How to turn off ad tracking in Google, Bing and Yahoo!

Bing

In order to turn off personalized ad tracking on Bing, you need to opt out of customized ads on all Microsoft sites and partners (such as AOL). To do this, go to choice.microsoft.com or from the Bing homepage, select ‘Settings’ from the hamburger menu in the corner, then More > Personalization and select the link to the Personalization Settings Page. Under ‘Other privacy settings’, select ‘Advertising Preferences’.

How to turn off ad tracking in Google, Bing and Yahoo!

From there, you can toggle ‘Personalized ads in this browser’ to OFF, and if you’re signed into your Microsoft account, you can also turn off ‘Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account’.

How to turn off ad tracking in Google, Bing and Yahoo!

You can also opt out of personalized ads from other companies served by Microsoft, by selecting ‘Do you want personalized ads from other companies?’ under ‘More choices’.

On this page, as with Google, you can opt out of ad tracking for individual companies listed, or select ‘Choose all companies’ at the bottom to opt out of personalized ads for all participating companies.

How to turn off ad tracking in Google, Bing and Yahoo!

Yahoo!

To opt out of ad tracking on Yahoo!, go to the Yahoo! Ad Interest Manager or on the Yahoo! homepage, select ‘About our ads’ (in very small light grey text in between ‘Privacy’ and ‘Help’) and then under ‘What choices do I have?’ select ‘Manage interest-based advertising categories, or opt-out of all categories, from Yahoo.’

How to turn off ad tracking in Google, Bing and Yahoo!

On the Yahoo! Ad Interest Manager, under ‘Your advertising choices’ there are two tabs, one for across the web and one for Yahoo! sites, widgets and apps. Select ‘Opt out’ for either tab to opt out of ads.

How to turn off ad tracking in Google, Bing and Yahoo!