Ever Wondered What Google Is Saying About You?
One of the biggest struggles with working in online marketing is realising how much data is collected on us because suddenly you have to use it. This truly hit home the first time I created Facebook ads, as I was able to look through the insane number of categories available for targeting ads. Everything you could possibly think of, they know about you, or at least they think they do.
Because they make mistakes too, they make assumptions based off of trends or a random search. You may have been looking something up based off of a recommendation or as a gift for someone, and suddenly you’ll be inundated with irrelevant ads.
Learning about the various categories led me to be curious about how I had been categorised and how accurately they had managed to portray me. Did Google really know me, or were they treating me like any other twenty-four-year-old with mental health issues? We’re quite a broad bunch.
Keeping an eye on the ads that pop up is one way to do it, but too much of that is based on location or budget, and you’ll never really know why they chose you. So here is a better way to find out the rumours that Google is spreading about you, and exactly how accurate they are.
How to see your ad assumptions
All you have to do is visit the following website:
Google aims to show you relevant ads based on your interests. Use this tool to select interest categories so that the…
Log in with a Google account, and you’ll discover every assumption that Google has made about you. This is through your web searches, the Youtube videos that you watch and more. They’ll guess your age, hobbies, marital status, interests and even your music taste.
They can make more than one assumption on specific categories, as they either realise how varied taste can be or don’t know how to place you. For example, I’m listed as liking rap music, country music, jazz music, blues music and more. I mainly listen to Taylor Swift and Broadway show tunes, so I’m not really sure how this happened.
Unhappy with one of their assumptions? You can remove it. You can also remove this feature altogether, to ensure that Google doesn’t use your data when deciding on ads. This will ensure your data is not saved, but also result in the offering of randomised ads. But keep in mind that Google isn’t the only one using your data for ads, as this is how many websites or apps earn their money, so you’ll be targeted through different mediums. Here is a clear guide.
What are some assumptions that Google made about me?
Well, they were extremely vague regarding my age. I am labelled as 18–44. There is a lot of wiggle room in that, and it would undoubtedly impact my ads heavily. Am I heading off to college or closing in on retirement?
They correctly determined that I was female, perhaps due to a slight obsession with online clothes shopping.
My homeownership status is renters, which I found remarkably well observed. I was looking for a new place about a year and a half ago, so this may have impacted my search history.
They assumed my parenting status to be “not a parent”, but parenting was still listed as one of my interests. I think this is due to research for my latest book, as I did a lot of research on surrogacy and child developmental stages. I also recently wrote an article on the impact of birth order which didn’t help matters.
They recognised that I have a Bachelor’s degree; I’m curious how they pinpoint that and what they use it for in terms of possible ads.
Apparently one of my interests is “computer hardware”. My partner would name me one of the most technologically inept people he’s ever come across, so I doubt this one. I even type articles with one finger off each hand, an awful habit for a writer and one that could have me quickly labelled as a boomer. I’m told that I like “comics” when I’ve never read one in my life, but I am a big fan of the Marvel films, so I see where they got lost on that one.
Furthermore, they realised that I’m a pet owner. This was probably quite an easy catch, as I google questions about my hamster on a weekly basis, e.g. “Is it normal for my hamster to X?”. I buy him way too many toys and snacks. I also google cute dog photos whenever I feel sad, which gives them a lot of leverage. I’ll consider this an easy win.
I could go on, but I don’t think you’re interested in learning every single detail about my life. Instead, visit the website and find out what your own ad assumptions are. If you’re uncomfortable using your data, take this opportunity to switch off your ad personalisation. It’s as simple as using that toggle at the top of the page.
I’m curious whether Google made any incorrect assumptions about you, so feel free to share them in the comments!
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