Nearly every website today hides underneath dozens of entities and trackers that monitor your activities in the background. Google wants to bring more transparency to the experience and it’s doing so with a new Chrome add-on appropriately called Ads Transparency Spotlight.
Ads Transparency Spotlight is part of Google’s ongoing efforts to offer more transparency into its ads platform and inform users about how their data is being targeted online. Whenever you visit a webpage, you can simply launch the extension and it will sift through it to give you a rundown of all the displayed ads and the trackers working behind-the-scenes watching your every move.
“Our commitment to increase transparency and offer users more control goes beyond the ads Google shows,” wrote Mike Schulman, Vice President of Google’s Ads Privacy and Safety division in a blog post. “Due to the complexity of the digital ads ecosystem and the large number of entities involved, it’s typically not clear to users which companies are even involved in showing them an ad. To provide people with detailed information about all the ads they see on the web, we’re releasing a new tool called Ads Transparency Spotlight.”
The Chrome tool reveals a range of key details that can help you decide whether you feel comfortable visiting the particular website. That includes the names of the tech services that enable advertisers to run the ad, the upper-level platform (which is Google in most cases) that is hosting the ad, and all the corporations that have a presence in some form on the page such as third-party trackers and analytics providers.
On top of that, the add-on shares insight into which of your data these ads are based on. For instance, they can be tailored as per your interests or the topic of the website itself. However, Ads Transparency Spotlight is still in its early stages and since it relies on a new ad scheme, it won’t always work as you’d expect it to.
In addition to this, Google is updating its ads, specifically the “Why This Ad” button that reveals why a particular ad is being shown to you. Google says it’s adding a new feature called “About this ad” which will provide more details on the advertiser behind an ad.
Schulman claims that the search engine giant is actively working on offering a more private and safe experience online. “We’re also exploring a range of other approaches to improve user privacy while ensuring publishers can earn what they need to fund great content and advertisers can reach the right people for their products,” he added in the blog post.