a billboard with lots of advertisements

How Does YouTube Choose Ads?

Have you ever been on YouTube and were left wondering why are they showing me this ad? YouTube advertising uses a lot of information to target its ads to you. Let’s see how they choose which ad to show you.

YouTube’s Ad Display Algorithm

An important thing to remember here is that Google owns YouTube, so any information Google has on you can be used for this.

The information that YouTube uses according to Google is:

  1. Info in your Google Account, like your age range, gender and geographic location
  2. Other activity on Google services, like Google Ads
  3. Types of websites you visit and mobile app activity on your device
  4. Info we get about you from partners
  5. Types of videos you’ve viewed and interacted with
  6. Anonymous identifiers associated with your mobile device

1. Info in your Google Account, like your age range, gender and geographic location

This will allow companies to advertise to the right groups for their customers like beer ads are only for adults and local companies advertising to customers near their stores.

2. Other activity on Google services, like Google Ads

Google allows you to set your ad preferences and choose what you would like to see here. In this list, you will see topics that you have selected and your search history. Remember Google owns YouTube, so this information is freely available for YouTube ads.

3. Types of websites you visit and mobile app activity on your device

As mentioned above, your recent search history across devices is visible to Google/YouTube and they will use this information to target ads to you. Google can see your Chrome search history and the apps that are on your google device (like phones, Chromebooks, tablets etc)

4. Info we get about you from partners

According to Google, their partners are businesses they work with such as websites and apps. Many of these have privacy policies that allow your info to be shared for marketing purposes. Using these apps and websites may affect which ads you see on YouTube.

5. Types of videos you’ve viewed and interacted with

An example of this is if you watch travel videos on YouTube, then you might see ads about travel insurance. Or if you watch sports videos, you might see an ad on sporting good. If your taste in videos and ads has changed recently you can view, delete, or pause your YouTube watch history to change this.

6. Anonymous identifiers associated with your mobile device

This is probably the hardest to find information on but according to AppsFlyer these include pre-install engagement (ad clicks or views) and in-app events (purchases, levelling up, etc)

This can show in-app personalization and audience segmentation (age, interests etc.) for ads.

Conclusion

YouTube has a massive amount of information on you to choose which ads to show you. Sadly, there you will still have to watch ads but the good news is at least you will be shown ads tailored to you.

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Author

  • Chris Hickey

    Chris is a proud Irish person living abroad in Australia. He comes from a varied background with a Bachelors in Pharmacology and a Masters in Molecular Cell Biology and Bioinnovation and direct experience working in the Technology sector for a large multinational. When he is not writing about business and tech, he is probably on his next trip to experience a new part of the world or trying another new food. In fact, he might even try writing on a few of these experiences in the future.

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