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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.



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19.03.2011

Google advertising doesn’t understand that opting out means opting out

Yesterday, I wrote about Google’s Ads Preferences Manager. I mentioned that I had opted out before, but had found myself having to repeat the exercise. I did, however, stop short at levelling blame at Google for another privacy gaffe, despite its behaviour with Web History, Buzz, Reader, Notes, etc., just in case I had fiddled around with my cookies and accidentally allowed the Google cookie to return.
   The trouble with putting faith in Google, and giving someone the benefit of the doubt, is being disappointed. Because, sure enough, less than 24 hours after opting out and believing it to be permanent, the cookie is back.
   Google itself states:

Opt out if you prefer ads not to be based on interests and demographics.
   When you opt out, Google disables this cookie and no longer associates interest and demographic categories with your browser.

and that they follow these three principles when serving ads:

   Transparency – We provide detailed information about our advertising policies and practices.
   Choice – We offer innovative ways to view, manage and opt out of advertising cookies.
   No personally identifying information – We don’t collect or serve ads based on personally identifying information without your permission.

Also, Google claims to follow ‘the industry privacy standards for online advertising.’
   Bollocks. Bollocks. Bollocks.
   I didn’t touch my Doubleclick cookies in Firefox, and I had ensured that I had been opted out to the other NAI participating companies. Here’s my Google Ad Preferences Manager at the time of writing:

Google Ad Preferences Manager

These preferences are different to what I had in there before opting out for the umpteenth time yesterday, so I know it’s not an old cookie stuck on the system.
   When I visited the NAI page at www.aboutads.info/choices/, every other member has respected my opt-out preference. Except Google.
   Two entries I specifically opted out of—Dedicated Media (Doubleclick) and Google—are back in the list as customizing cookies for this browser:

Aboutads.info

They need to rename this page from choices to something else, because it seems I don’t have a choice—other than to program Firefox to block all cookies from Dedicated Media and Doubleclick manually.
   The cookie has also returned on my laptop, running a different OS and the old Firefox—again less than 24 hours after opting out.
   I realize the NAI page is in beta, but Google’s Ad Preferences Manager is not—and it’s been around since 2009.
   But it is only two years, and how dare I expect Google to get its technology sorted in such a short space of time? I mean, it does take six months to restore a blog.
   In every case I had made sure, after writing my blog entry yesterday, that I made no manual changes to my Firefox cookies. And no, Firefox is not set to delete my history or cookies each session on either computer.
   In fact, here’s proof:

Doubleclick cookie

This is my new cookie which Google has put on my browser, despite claiming I had opted out both via its own website and via the NAI one.

Doubleclick cookie

And this is the opt-out cookie, which is still there—but it means nothing.
   If you opted out yesterday, I suggest you recheck your preferences at www.google.com/ads/preferences.
   With all of Google’s lengthy explanations about advertising preferences and how they oh-so-ethically provide this means of opting out, it’s just the usual BS from this California company. Privacy? Don’t be evil? Forget it.
   I’m going to opt out again, just to see what happens, and will report back when I can.

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Filed under: business, internet, marketing, technology, USA—Jack Yan @ 01.25

2 Responses to ‘Google advertising doesn’t understand that opting out means opting out’

  1. […] ad networks, even when users had opted out of being tracked.    But we all know about how opting out does not mean opting out when it comes to Google. We know how Google did not respect your privacy when it came to […]

  2. […] Google, hacks, privacy breaches, and ad codes: there’s a pattern emerging here « Jack Yan: the Persuader Blog on Google advertising doesn’t understand that opting out means opting out […]

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