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How accurate are your personalised Google ads?

Google Search

How accurate are your personalised Google ads?

Last week, a TikTok user shared a way to find out what Google knows about you in a matter of seconds, and internet users who have tried it for themselves have had reactions ranging from the creeped out to the confused.

The TikTok from @yorgoandlea can be seen here, but if you want to check out who Google thinks you are, all you need to do is:

1. Make sure you’re signed into your Google account
2. Search for “ad settings google” (without quotes)
3. Click on the first result that comes up
4. Scroll down to “How your ads are personalized”

I was apprehensive, but I gave it a go, and found my results are a mixed bag. It has my gender and age range correct, but then I’m pretty sure these are details you have to provide when setting up a Gmail account. It knows I’m married and from North West England, and I can identify with many of the interests Google associates with me, like football (or “soccer” as it calls it), indie and alternative music, and environmental issues.

Others are less accurate. The standout error is that Google thinks I speak Arabic, for some reason. It also seems to believe I have three children rather than one, and incorrectly has me down as a homeowner. Some of the interests mystify me, like nail care products and autos/vehicles, and while Engage Web is a growing company, it’s somewhat off the mark in thinking I work for a large organisation in the manufacturing industry with 250 to 10,000 employees.

I don’t use Google as often as some people, which might explain why it hasn’t pinpointed me too well, and in a way, I find it reassuring that Google makes mistakes. I can look at why Google thinks I’m interested in any topic (although the reason given is pretty vague) and I can tidy up my settings by turning off anything not relevant too me. That means I should gradually start to see more relevant ads when using Google, although if that sort of thing doesn’t bother you, it is possible to use the ad personalisation settings to limit the amount of personalisation Google targets at you, or even turn it off completely.

Business owners may find it interesting to think about the kind of people they hope to reach via Google, and then look at what sort of profile the search engine is building about themselves. In many cases, business owners are roughly their own target customer – for example, the owner of a hiking store is likely to be interested in hiking themselves. That means they can look at what information Google holds about them and target their ad campaigns towards these demographics to reach like-minded people.

If you want to build on this research with a search engine optimisation campaign, we’re here to help at Engage Web.

John Murray

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