Have you ever had an ad come onto the TV or radio with an opening line like “Are you a 55 year old woman that took Metabolife between 2001 and 2005?” Since they asked a question, the polite thing to do is to answer them. I can usually tell them ‘no’ 99% of them time. Despite responding with ‘no’, they continue to waste their time and mine for the next 30 seconds, minute, or longer.
In my opinion, targeted ads online are a much better trade-off for all the free content than the irrelevant TV and radio ads I’m subjected to. Google allows you to see the profile it has for you and how it’s custom tailoring its ads to be of interest to you. You can visit Google.com/ads/preferences/ from any computer to see the relevant categories determined for your cookie.
Their automatic assumptions are pretty spot on for me…
You can remove any categories that you don’t like or add other categories to help fill out the profile and ensure you see ads in the categories that interest you.
Many people will also find this interest-based tracking a violation of privacy and Google allows you to Opt-out of the tracking. Just click the Opt-Out button on that page or on the Advertising and Privacy page and the cookie will be disabled. You can also look for many browsers to start offering Do-Not-Track options, like Firefox 5 just brought to all its platforms.
From the Ad Preferences page, you can learn more about the standards Google Ads employs with its ads to deliver relevant ads. It’s a bit closer to understanding your ‘no’ when you respond to an ad.