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Google fine-tunes ad controls, accountability

A new browser cookie lets advertisers control how frequently an ad is shown and lets advertisers better measure the effectiveness of ads that aren't clicked.

Google has added some abilities for advertisers to control and track their display advertisements.

Advertisers now can keep an ad from being shown too frequently to each user, Google said on its corporate blog Thursday. Advertisers also can see data about how many people have seen an ad campaign and the average number of times people have seen the ads.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google also is letting advertisers see "view-through conversion" statistics, which measure when a person who's been shown an ad visits the advertiser's Web site. This is significant because advertisers want to know how influential their ads are without having to rely solely on click-through statistics. Especially in today's iffy economy, being able to measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign is crucial to advertisers' decision to run the ads.

Google makes the vast majority of its revenue and profit through search ads that are shown alongside search results. The new features are designed to improve the company's position with display ads, the more traditional, typically graphical ads built into ordinary Web pages.

The new features come through use of a new cookie, a small text file stored on a Web browser's computer, according to Google's AdWords blog.

Google also updated its ad-related privacy policy as a result of the new cookie.

The cookie helps unify operations from Google's earlier advertising work and technology gained from its acquisition of DoubleClick. It also simplifies things for people who don't want to receive the cookies.

"With one click, users can opt out of a single cookie for both DoubleClick ad serving and the Google content network," Google said. "If a user has already opted out of the DoubleClick cookie, that opt-out will also automatically apply to the Google content network."

Google provides a privacy site where people can opt out of the cookies.