By Anais Puechbroussou

Google has just announced an update to its “Mute This Ad” feature, giving users more control over the ads they are served. Users have been able to mute ads since 2012 but Google is bringing changes to that feature. So, what does it mean exactly for advertisers? We’ve had a look at this new option to see what impact it could have for Display.

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Google announces new Ad Settings features

The first significant update from Google is the ability for users with a Google Account to see the advertisers that are targeting them via remarketing. From the Ad Settings part of their account, users will now be able to directly mute advertisers. 

Reminder ads

Those advertisers will then stop showing ads to those users for 90 days. This concerns all remarketing ads for one domain so if certain users happen to fall into multiple remarketing campaigns, they will stop seeing ads for all those campaigns.

Mute This Ad Update

Users have been able to report or mute ads for a long time by clicking on the blue x next to ads on Google’s ad network. They can even provide the reason why they no longer want to see an ad, such as: 

Mute this ad options

Now, their preference will be saved across all their devices as long as they are logged into their Google Account.

The other update is the reach. Google has said this feature will be available for a much larger volume of websites and apps.

Who does this concern?

Advertisers showing ads on websites and apps that are part of the Google Display Network. Ads can still be muted on DBM if they are served via GDN but this doesn’t include other ad exchanges. At the moment, this feature doesn’t seem to concern:

  • Video ads
  • Creative rendered by the publisher (such as native ads)
  • Expandable ads

However, Google has announced plans in the next months for the following:

  • Search
  • YouTube
  • Gmail

What does this mean for advertisers?

Google’s reasoning behind this feature is the following:

  • Putting the user experience first
  • Preventing advertisers from paying to show ads to people that aren’t interested
  • Helping publishers get higher performing ads on their site

This is mutually beneficial for users, publishers and advertisers. After all, do we really want to spend money on users that won’t engage with our ads? This is particularly relevant to advertisers who use CPM bid strategies and pay for impressions.

This feature also highlights the issue of ad fatigue, as users can mute an ad based on whether they have seen it multiple times. More importantly, we don’t want a less engaged user to view a brand negatively, if they feel inconvenienced by ads they don’t feel are relevant.

If this option is used by significantly more users then it’s possible that you’ll see a drop in impressions. However, in that case it will be up to account managers to be vigilant and adjust their targeting towards more relevant users. 

Another positive point is that Google isn’t ruling out the possibility of sharing data with advertisers on when their ads are muted. This could provide valuable insights in the future, in term of targeting and creatives.

All of this combined suggests that advertisers will be less likely to waste spend on users for whom their ads are less relevant. Win-win!

In the wake of GDPR, it’s also possible that this is another step from Google to increase transparency on the use of personal data in advertising. As this new data protection regulation will come into effect in early 2018, it’s likely that we will see more of those updates from digital advertising platforms.

What’s next?

It’s difficult to evaluate how many people will make use of this feature and the impact it will have on volume and performance. At Merkle | Periscopix, our account managers closely monitor their campaigns and adjust targeting based on performance. Ongoing optimisation will therefore limit any impact coming from this new feature.

Our aim should be to show the right ad to the right user as the right time. If you are already doing that then you shouldn’t have to worry.   

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