Software

Google slaps mute button on stupid ads that nag you to buy stuff you just looked at

Chocolate Factory touts more ways to blast banners

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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Google says it will allow netizens to block nuisance "reminder" adverts that follow them around across websites.

The Mountain View advertising giant said the new feature, launching first on its own sites and in Android apps, will let users rid themselves ads that prod people about products they had previously viewed. You know the ones: you search for a camera, and then you get stalked by camera ads all over the place. The feature can be toggled on through an ad settings menu.

"Today, we’re rolling out the ability to mute the reminder ads in apps and on websites that partner with us to show ads," said Google data privacy and transparency group product manager John Krafcik.

"We plan to expand this tool to control ads on YouTube, Search, and Gmail in the coming months."

In other words, we're trying to make ads on our sites less crappy, ads giant admits.

Additionally, Google says it will add new options to its "Mute" feature for ads. Now, people will be able to tie their mute preferences to their accounts and apply them to multiple devices.

An ad muted on a laptop, for example, will now also be blocked on smartphones running the same account. Google also says it is going to roll out the 'mute' button to more of its apps and sites, though the Chocolate Factory didn't say what apps and when.

Shut up

Incidentally, the release of Chrome 64 brings more control over websites that autoplay videos: to stop a site from autoplaying material as soon as you open the page, open the website's info drop-down menu (by clicking to the left of its URL in the address bar) and go down to "Sound" and mute it.

The new features come as Google claims it is trying to overhaul its ad network to show fewer junk adverts and let users have more control over what gets displayed. Google estimates that last year it got more than 5 billion feedback reports from users muting ads and as a result it dropped around one million ads from circulation in its network.

The Chocolate Factory has good reason to clean up bad adverts on its network, as ads still make up the overwhelming majority of Google's revenues. In its last quarterly report [PDF], Alphabet said that $24bn of its $27.7bn company revenues came from advertising. ®

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