Google’s at it again! This time, it’s changing the way it’s displaying its ads — a change that could very well get you involved without ever meaning to. The new ads are called “Shared Endorsements” and show just how private your online information really is. Hint: it isn’t. Are you ready for your face to appear in ads?
What Are Shared Endorsements?
As you probably know, most ads you see are personalized for you. Shared Endorsements are a new type of ad that makes the ads you see even more personalized and informative. For example, right now you might see an ad about a product that you researched half an hour ago. This already involves quite a bit of personalization because Google knows what you’ve been searching for.
Shared Endorsements takes it up another notch. Say you’ve been researching a product half an hour ago, and an ad for that product appears. However, this time you’ll also see one of your friends in the ad, their profile picture, and a review of the product that they made or a simple statement that they +1’d the product. It’s a simple but effective use of information you’ve given Google.
The style of the Shared Endorsements ads will be very much like the recommendations you already see on Google Play services. On Google Play Music, for example, whenever a friend +1’s a new album or writes a good review of an album, you’ll see it as an ad or whenever you’re checking out the album yourself. Shared Endorsements work the same way, only this time your face shows up on regular web ads powered by Google.
Of course, the Shared Endorsements will only appear whenever you’re logged into your Google account, as Google would otherwise not know who your friends on Google+ are. Likewise, Google can only use reviews and +1’s that you’ve done while logged into your Google account — if you write an anonymous review (where it’s still possible), Google won’t be able to use that and identify it as a review that you wrote.
As the targeted consumer, this makes you feel more informed about clicking on an ad or buying a product, which is exactly what Google wants. But for the person whose review and picture showed up on your computer, it could feel like a major privacy issue.
Google does mention that Shared Endorsements will still follow the privacy settings in your Google account and Google+ profile. So there is a way to somewhat control what’s happening.
First, the +1’s and reviews of users under the age of 18 won’t appear at all. Second, there’s a way you can opt out of appearing in Shared Endorsements. All you need to do is go to the Shared Endorsements setting page while logged into your Google account, uncheck your permission for this new ad and click Save. This setting only applies to Shared Endorsements in regular web ads powered by Google — there is no way to turn off Shared Endorsements-esque recommendations within Google Play services. Then again, they’re very useful here and have already existed for quite a while.
On a similar note, there are also ways of opting out of personalized ads within Google services as well as general web ads powered by Google. All you have to do is visit this page while logged in, and choose the two Opt-out options at the bottoms of both columns (these columns represent the Google services ads and general web ads).
The necessary Terms of Service update to enable Google to start using Shared Endorsements is set to go into effect on November 11, 2013. The opt-out page is already available, so you can opt out before the Shared Endorsements start to appear.
While the Shared Endorsements can make people more aware about what they’re sharing online, this new type of ad doesn’t really collect any new information. These are things you’re already choosing to give to Google (your reviews, your +1’s, and so on), and Google is simply deciding to use that information while displaying ads to make them more effective. It’s a very smart move on Google’s part, and it’s your decision whether you’re OK with being displayed in ads or not.
While I don’t necessarily have a problem with Google using information I’m already giving them, I am still opting out because I’d rather not be mentioned for marketing purposes and have someone complain later on that I recommended something when all I did was +1 or write a good review. Otherwise, it’s just a simple strategy by Google to made ads more effective. And who can blame them — their primary business model is advertising.
If you’re concerned about what information you’re giving Google, there are some steps you can take to give yourself more privacy from Google.
What do you think about Shared Endorsements? Will you be opting out or not? Let us know in the comments!