Yahoo Lets Users See How They’re Being Tracked for Ads

    December 7, 2009
    Chris Crum

Yahoo has launched a tool it’s calling "Ad Interest Manager" in beta. The tool is designed to provide transparency and let Yahoo users make decisions about how they want their information to be exposed to interest-based advertising from the Yahoo Ad Network.

"Ads tailored to users’ interests make online experiences more compelling and user-focused, and the new tool Yahoo! is launching today will provide transparency into how Yahoo!’s interest-based advertising works," said Yahoo! Vice President of Policy and Head of Privacy, Anne Toth. "Yahoo! is committed to providing consumers with increased transparency and control when they are online. Ad Interest Manager will show users what interests we think they have, and also let them edit and change those interests to reflect the most up-to-date information." Anne Toth also pointed out: "Importantly, users who don’t want interest-based ads can turn them off completely."

Ad Interest Manager

The tool shows users Yahoo’s "educated guesses" about their interests, but it also provides a summary of observations. It shows the Yahoo properties that you used the most, and gives you your activity level for each one (ranging from high to low).

"Yahoo! has long provided its users with products and services for free, thanks to a business model based almost entirely on advertising, and we’ve found that consumers are more likely to click on advertising that speaks directly to them and their interests," said Yahoo! Vice President and General Manager of Display Advertising, David Zinman. "With the introduction of Ad Interest Manager, users can not only get a better understanding of how the process works, but they can also communicate better with Yahoo! and our advertisers about what most interests them."

If users actually decide to take advantage of this, it could go a long way to help advertisers better target their ads. However, it may be asking a lot for the average Yahoo user to simply take the time to do it, assuming they even know that such a feature exists. I don’t see any promotion of it on the Yahoo home page at this point.

If you go to the Ad Interest Manager, there is a button that lets you opt out entirely. You have to allow cookies from Yahoo to do so, though.

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> Google to Serve Ads Based on Browsing History

> 7 Behavioral Targeting Privacy Principles