Google’s Ad Customisation Model May Not Find Takers

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Google’s recent announcement to allow users more control over the content they see in advertisements is unlikely to find as many takers. According to tech and marketing analysts, rolling out a feature for users is vastly different from getting them to actually make use of it. They also feel that users generally do not make an effort to figure out the kind of content they would prefer to see in ads.

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“The real adoption of many such features tends to be on the lower side,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst, founder and CEO, Greyhound Research. “How many customers will even end up using this feature will depend on how aggressively Google decides to champion and educate them,” he added.

“One must see this move by Google as its attempt to move away from the advertising business,” Gogia says. “In many ways, it is looking to build an ecosystem similar to Apple that packages services, content and other offerings,” he adds.

“Firstly, ad personalisation isn’t really a bad thing. There are examples where personalised ads have helped consumers discover products, services and brands that they may not be aware of,” says Gogia. This may particularly be true in the case of new-age, direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, who may not possess the scale to advertise offline. “Having said that, there are instances where ad companies have turned invasive in terms of using consumers’ data for targeting. This announcement may attempt to solve this issue,” Gogia adds.

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Additional Analyst Comments

First things first, ad personalization isn’t really a bad thing per se. There are enough and more examples where personalized ads help consumers discover products, services, and brands that they may not be aware have existed. This is particularly true and relevant in today’s era when the D2C brands are becoming plenty. Important to remember here that smaller D2C brands don’t have the muscle like their larger counterparts to spend on offline advertising and brand building and this is where ad personalization comes to a significant advantage. The combination of powerful content alongside ad personalization, if done professionally and ethically, can be quite the win-win for advertisers and consumers alike.

Having said that, there are enough and more instances where ad companies have gone invasive in terms of using consumers’ data for targeting purposes and that’s where the pressure to let customers choose comes from. This announcement from Google is a step in the right direction and will attempt to solve the issue of the invasive nature of ads. What this control centre will potentially also allow customers to do is cherry-pick topics they believe are sensitive to them. However, having a feature is one part, and getting users to understand and use that feature is another. So, how many customers will even end up using this feature will depend on how aggressively Google decides to champion and educate the users.

For advertisers, this will be amongst many other shifts they have seen in the previous times. This isn’t the first time advertisers have seen a change in policies and algorithms, and it’s almost something they have come to expect. One must get real when assessing the impact on advertisers. While the feature is yet to be launched so we really don’t know the possibilities that users have in terms of true control, but also, the real adoption of many such features tends to be on the lower side. It is yet to be seen how aggressively Google pursues this initiative and we will have to wait and watch for the true impact this will have on ads. 

In addition, what is important to remember is that for now, Google decides the super list of what is considered sensitive and this list may in many cases match the list of items that are either prohibited or limited for offline advertising in many countries. But, as we have seen in offline advertisements, there are always subtle ways of talking about the brand (like Alcohol companies launching music and water) so that may well replicate online as well. In addition, in today’s day and age when influencer marketing and partnership-based ads are being pursued rather actively, it can prove to be a great alternative for mainstream ad targeting.

One must see this move by Google as their attempt to move away from the advertising business. In many ways, they are looking to build an ecosystem similar to Apple that packages services, content, and other offerings. YouTube Premium, Google Drive, and others are all part of this initiative. Also, such a move is very likely to put all focus on Meta that currently has a similar sizeable dependence on advertising and they may be forced to build alternative revenue lines.


<strong>Analyst: Sanchit Vir Gogia</strong>
Analyst: Sanchit Vir Gogia

Sanchit is the Chief Analyst, Founder & CEO of Greyhound Research, a Global, Award-Winning, Digital & Technology Research & Advisory firm.

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