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Google Promises Mute Button to Turn Off Online Ads

Google is working on a new capability that will allow users to turn off ads, or at least, reduce the number of ads it sees.

Google is working on a new capability that will allow users to turn off ads, or at least, reduce the number of ads it sees.

Available in a few weeks, Google will be adding a small “[x]” in the corner of some display ads on the Google Display Network, Michael Aiello, a Google product manager, wrote on the Inside Adsense Blog. When the user clicks on that icon, the user will no longer see ads from that campaign, and thus “mute” the rest of the ads from being shown.

Users who click the [x] will be shown a confirmation page explaining the advertisement has been muted, and be given a link to the Ad Preferences Manager, Aiello said. Users can edit advertising interest categories or to opt out of online ads altogether on Google’s Display Network using the Ad Preferences Manager, said Aiello.

There are several third-party browser extensions already available that allow users to surf the Web without seeing any ads. The Google feature will just “mute” a particular ad, as opposed to blocking them altogether.

The mute button is not fool-proof but is an “early step in the right direction” of giving users control over the ads they are shown, Aiello promised.

“The muting is not a 100% guarantee you won’t see that ad again as a conumser—for example, the same ad could be shown by a different ad company, or the marketer could run a separate campaign targeting specific Web content,” Aiello said.

Google has developed a number of features that give users more control over the ads they see, Aiello said. YouTube’s TrueView ad product allows users to skip video ads and stop sites from showing ads by clicking on “Why this ad?” on Google Search.

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Google calling it a “mute” button instead of an ad-blocker, may be the company’s attempt to satisfy end-users and regulators without frightening off advertisers. As Aiello noted, online advertising underpins the Web and supports millions of businesses. The company is trying to give users some control over what they see without cutting off the advertising revenue.

John Battelle, an entrepreneur interested in online advertising, praised Google for innovating in advertising. “I’d like to suggest that retargeted ads acknowledge, with a simple graphic in a consistent place, that they are in fact a retargeted ad, and offer the consumer a chance to tell the advertiser ‘Thanks, but for now I’m not interested.’ Then the ad goes away, and a new one would show up,” Battelle wrote in an earlier post on his blog.

Google’s mute button shows that company “has gotten with the program,” Battelle wrote.

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