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Google Is Making It Easier to Turn Off Targeted Ads

My Ad Center is a new hub where people can control the types of ads they see.

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Google is adding new controls to let people turn off targeted ads.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Google said Thursday it has started rolling out My Ad Center, which enables people to turn off targeted advertising while still ensuring apps such as Maps, Search and Google Assistant work. 

My Ad Center, announced earlier this year at Google I/O, is a new hub where people can control the types of ads they see. When looking at an ad in YouTube, Search or Discover, they can tap or click on the three small dots next to the ad, taking them to My Ad Center. There, people can give feedback on the ad, whether they want to see more or less of an ad or if there are certain ads they'd like to not see at all.

YouTube shows users ads based on their watch history. In My Ad Center, people can turn off targeted ads in YouTube without it affecting video recommendations.

"You can decide what types of your Google activity are used to show you ads, without impacting your experience with the utility of the product," Jerry Dischler, vice president and general manager of ads at Google, said in a press release. 

Since 2009, Google has allowed people to turn off ad personalization, but with the disadvantage of apps not being fully featured.

"Now we are providing individual controls for Google activities (thus allowing you to pick specifically what's used for personalization, and giving you the option to separate your product and ads experience)," said Karin Hennessy, lead product manager for user privacy and trust at Google in a statement.

For a company that relies on advertising as its main source of revenue, Google giving people greater ad control is a major shift. Trust in Big Tech has fallen to an all-time low, according to a study. Project Nightingale, in which Google gathered the personal health data of millions of Americans, and Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal have made the public wary of major tech firms. As Apple has made privacy a central talking point for its products, it has put other tech companies in a defensive position. At Google's Pixel 7 event earlier this year, the company touted new privacy and security features.

"To build more trust, we want to continue ensuring that ads respect people's privacy; and offer transparency, choice and control," Dischler said. "We see these principles as foundational to the future of advertising."

Changes to My Ad Center are linked to a person's Google account, meaning a change made on YouTube will also apply on Search, Assistant and Discover.