The changes to its advertising technology follow an intervention from the European Union and mean that Google will no longer inform advertisers about the type of content where their ad could appear.
Google has risen to become the dominant player in programmatic advertising, the automated trading of web display ads, thanks to this ability to offer more precision in a placement making the move a significant climbdown for the company.
In a blog post confirming the move Chetna Bindra, senior product manager for user trust and privacy at Google, said: “This change will help avoid the risk that any participant in our auctions is able to associate individual ad identifiers with Google’s contextual content categories.”
She concluded: "Trust is the foundation of a healthy and sustainable advertising ecosystem. That’s why we’re working across products to ensure that our policies and practices are evolving to reflect people’s changing expectations around how data is collected and used. We will continue to ensure that people’s choices about the use of their data are respected, offer users additional controls, and increase transparency into how digital advertising works."
Google claims that it protects user privacy by requiring publishers to obtain consent from individuals for targeted ads but questions remain among European regulators as to whether Google’s handling of user data in advertising transactions complies with strict privacy laws across the continent.