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Google’s Expanded Settings Will Help You Avoid Ads About Gambling And Dating

by Victoria Marian Belmis / Apr 29, 2022 11:02 AM EDT

Google is expanding the options for its sensitive ad category. Users can now limit how many ads they see about dating, pregnancy, parenting, and weight loss, and making those settings apply to more places. 

The preference feature was initially introduced as a method to let people see fewer ads on YouTube that displayed potentially addictive gambling or alcoholic products, but now it appears that Google is developing it to conceal other potentially uncomfortable or traumatic subjects.

READ: Google Enables New Safety Section That Helps Play Store Users In Gauging Apps

According to Elijah Lawal, a spokesperson for the company, the settings will now apply to all of Google's Display networks, not just for YouTube ads. Google says the network is "a group of more than 2 million websites, videos, and apps" that advertisers can target users across.

The feature can be easily enabled on the Ad Settings page of your Google account. Scroll down or search with 'Control+F' to "Sensitive ad categories on YouTube." 

Once there, click the "See Fewer" button next to whatever categories you prefer to come across less. The button will prompt a note explaining that you'll still see the same number of ads overall, and ask you to confirm before applying. From there, users can also "Allow" categories previously limited in the past.

Google's support page for the sensitive ad categories feature explains that, while the setting should show you fewer ads for products in each category you've chosen to limit, the topics may still appear in other ads. One example is "an airline ad featuring someone drinking a glass of champagne." 

READ: Google's New Play Store Policy Cracks Down On Third-Party Call Recording Apps

Searching for one of those topics or watching videos related to the topics may also influence the appearance of those ads. The company remarks that it "does not allow advertisers to personalize ads based on certain topics, like alcohol and gambling, but you may see ads about these things based on related interests," such as alcohol companies targeting sports fans.

Karin Hennessy, the company's group product manager for ads privacy, said in a statement emailed to The Verge that Google will "continue to listen to user feedback and study which categories to expand this feature to in the future."

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