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Google uses all the information associated with your account – search, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, Maps, Home – to show tailored ads on its own web properties, but up until now it had used cookies to deliver relevant ads on other sites. Now, the search giant is looking to expand the way that it uses your data for advertising, but will ask for your permission first.
Over the next few weeks, Google users will receive a notification directing them to check their security settings, where they can opt into a new type of "ads personalisation" based on age, gender, and search history. The feature allows Google to use that data, already in your Google account, to serve you up more relevant ads among the more than two million websites and apps in the Google Display Network. While more of your data will be used to show ads across the web, if you do opt-in you also get more granular control over this data.
To go along with the change Google is launching a new site called My Activity. The new site lets you see all your Google activity and control what information can be used for ads. Users can go back to any day to see activity and delete specific entries across all devices.
By making the feature opt-in Google hopes to avoid criticism of its privacy practices, while making advertising more relevant at a time more people are using ad blockers.
Google says it will continue to refrain from sharing your personal data with third parties, and you can tweak the type of information it collects from the My Account page.