All About AdChoices: What Is AdChoices? How Does it Affect Advertisers & Consumers?


A few years ago, during Thanksgiving supper, one of my relatives asked me to explain what my job entails. Before I could launch into my SEM elevator pitch, one of my aunts jumped in and said something to the effect of “She taps into people’s privacy and harasses them with ads online.” Sure, she made the comment in jest, but I think many people share this misconception.

If you work in the search marketing industry, you’ve probably had a similar experience at one point or another. So it’s probably a good idea to familiarize yourself with the privacy issues in online advertising. This post will provide a deep dive into AdChoices, a program designed to protect internet users’ privacy and give them control over their internet usage data.

What Is Ad Choices?

This should arm you with all the information you need next time you find yourself defending the digital marketing space.

How to Get Rid of AdChoices

First, a quick note on disambiguation: "AdChoices" is also the name of an adware or spyware program that can change your personal browser preferences and cause pop-up ads to display on your desktop. If you're looking to block AdChoices or remove AdChoices from your computer, try one of these resources:

You can also try installing an ad blocker program like like AdBlock for Chrome:

get rid of adchoices

History of the AdChoices Program

Long gone are the “wild west” days of the internet. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission began investigating advertising platforms that collect consumer data to use for advertising purposes. The FTC recognized a need for stricter regulations to protect consumers’ privacy rights, but instead of implementing these rules directly, it tasked industry leaders to develop a self-regulatory program. The goal of this program was simple—empower internet users to manage their own data and have more control over the ads they are shown.

The FTC’s decision was a golden opportunity for online advertisers. Rather than falling subject to heavy government regulation, they were offered a chance to define the terms of the regulations on their own. Industry leaders, such as the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the Four As), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) joined forces and established the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising.

The Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising implemented some major changes in the digital marketing landscape, including the inception of the AdChoices program.

Basic Requirements of the AdChoices Program

So, what does this program entail? It’s actually quite simple. AdChoices encourages online advertising platforms to include an advertising option icon on any ads or webpages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising. The good news for advertisers is that this icon is fairly small and unobtrusive; most consumers don’t even notice it. If they scroll over it, a link labeled “AdChoices” will appear.

AdChoices Icon

When a user clicks the icon, AdChoices triggers a pop-up that provides the consumer with more information, as well as the opportunity to opt out of interest-based ads. The format for this message varies, depending on the ad platform. Here’s an example of the message that appeared when I clicked on the AdChoices icon in the image ad above.

AdChoices Survey

Google’s Take on the AdChoices Program

Google prides itself on its user-centric advertising approach. In fact, I think Google can credit its success with online advertising to this customer-centric strategy. Therefore, it should not be surprising to hear that Google is a huge proponent of the AdChoices program. When the official AdChoices icon was rolled out in 2011, Google was one of the first advertising platforms to implement it. When the change went live, this quote was published on the Inside AdSense blog: “We hope to show our support for this cross-industry initiative, and to increase our users' understanding about ad choices through adoption of an icon they'll see on ads across the web.”

Not only has Google implemented the basic requirements of AdChoices, it’s gone a few steps further. Here are a few “bells and whistles” that Google implemented to ensure users have increased control over the ads they are served:

Ad Preferences Manager

Ad preferences manager

You can access your Ad Preference Manager by clicking on the AdChoices icon or heading to this link (be sure you’re logged into the right Google account). This gives you full access to the profile Google has created for you. You can see an excerpt from mine above. Google pretty much nailed it on the basics, but they missed the mark on the interests section. Luckily, I have the opportunity to edit this and to increase the likelihood of seeing ads that are suited to my real interests.

Ad Preferences

This page also gives me the option to opt out of all interest-based ads, an appealing option for anyone concerned with protecting their privacy. This feature is particularly useful in the case of remarketing ads, which allow advertisers to “follow” past site visitors with their ads. Danny Sullivan wrote a great piece explaining how remarketing ruined Christmas in his household, because his family knew where he’d been shopping for their gifts online. This opt-out is an easy way to prevent a similar fiasco next year.

“Mute This Ad” Button

Mute This Ad

Google introduced the “mute this ad” concept last summer to provide another level of control to users. The button typically appears alongside the AdChoice icon and, when the user clicks on it, they will no longer be served ads from that campaign.

In-Ad Surveys

Google In-Ad Survey

Google’s latest brainchild, in-ad surveys, is set to be released in the coming weeks. These short, two-part surveys will appear any time an ad is muted, to better understand the user’s motivations for muting the ad. Not only will this program allow Google to gather additional data, it also shows users that Google is committed to improving their experience.

AdChoices’ Impact on Advertisers

The AdChoices policy itself has a fairly minimal impact on advertisers. However, when AdChoices is paired with options like the Ad Preference Manager or in-ad surveys, consumers are encouraged to provide useful information regarding the ads they want to see. On a high level, this is beneficial to advertisers because it allows Google to create more precise interest groups. However, I’d love to see Google go the extra mile and offer additional information to advertisers.

Sharing information gleaned from muted ads could be a game changer for PPC advertisers. Consider the in-ad survey example above. Analyzing the results from this would allow advertisers to understand whether their ads simply aren’t resonating with their audience, or if they are too repetitive. Armed with this information, they will know when they need to create fresh ads or adjust their ad delivery settings.

Key Takeaways

  • AdChoices is a self-regulatory program that encourages online advertising platforms to include an advertising option icon on any ads or webpages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising.
  • Google embraces user choice, and has introduced additional AdChoices options including Ad Preferences Manager, “Mute This Ad,” and in-ad surveys.
  • This is great for Google, but what about advertisers? In an ideal world Google would share this data and insight with advertisers so we can improve our ads, both in terms of quality and ad delivery settings.

As an advertiser, would you want access to Google’s survey data? If so, how might you use it to improve your account? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

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May 07, 2014

adchoices is better than adsense?

May 08, 2014

This is good for Google and the adverisers but how about the readers? If they could give the readers incentive then they will be motivated to check out the ad. - Jason

May 24, 2014

 I still dont get it. Do bloggers get any incentives if the adchoice ads appear in their banners? If yes, where they can check earnings that they have made?

Sep 03, 2015


I know your question was asked over a year ago, but if you run a blog (your own blog, and not a service like and you sign up for AdSense (a google program), you can make money by blogging. If you allow Google to use your "land" to display a "sign" and a visitor of your blog clicks on the Ad, google will make lets say "25 cents" a click (it can be a lot more than that), but let's say 25 cents, Google will give you a nickle and pocket the 20 cents. So it's a win win! Now if your blog gets popular... you can make a living from blogging. You see a lot of sites like "buzz feed"... (and the list goes on and on) make money by selling advertisements. It's not that the content is legit, or even good, but the shock factor or whatever that convinces users to share it that the page becomes popular.... and once that happens..... well... the dollars roll in!

Jul 07, 2016

So if people blog for profit, AdChoice rewards them.
BUT how many people will stop reading their blogs because of the deluge of AdChoice scars on their screens?
I grew up in the 1950s, probably before your parents even met. The public highways were cluttered with billboards, distracting drivers and even causing some accidents. They were finally outlawed. Internet ads are going to wind up the same way. Rude advertisers like those who pay AdChoice are going to lose all advertising opportunities. But Internet users won't miss them.

May 29, 2014

So what was the misconception?  You work in search not display?

Jun 17, 2014

AdChoices doesn't care about your stated preferences. They continually clutter up the websites you visit anyway.I WON'T BUY FROM ANY SITE OR ANY ADVERTISER THAT DOESN'T AT LEAST PROVIDE AN 'X' TO CLOSE THE FREAKIN' AD! >:

Aug 15, 2014

I'll tell you exactly what adchoices is.  It's the advertising service that puts on 'VIDEO' advertising into pages that have FAKE PAUSE AND MUTE buttons on them.You can neither pause or mute them,  what they do is drive people away from the actual content they are supposed to be reading.If there is supposed to be a positive spin to adchoices I haven't seen one,  I just know that I click away from a webpage that carries advertising for it since it gives no choice to mute the sound. 

Wilmer Sprunger
Apr 03, 2015

I think you're absolutely right, and if I can't turn them off - then I'll not watch any more news articles. It'll just go OFF goes the weasel!

Sep 09, 2016

Exactly! You've got the right idea - if you don't want to see advertisements, do not consume media. Media costs money to put out, and that is why advertisements exist. Or you could say that media only exists because advertisements can be sold with it - even for your most beloved news source that you believe is perfectly aligned with your point of view - it exists to sell advertisements. Otherwise, you'd have to get your news word-of-mouth or through some sort of free government news agency. How would that turn out?

Oct 14, 2014

I think that is a smart way of advertising, good for the advetisers.

Bell Waard
Oct 24, 2014

I'm not willing to be spammed by AdChoices and now that I know from your blog here that part of the problem is google Iwill stop using google. I've started telling the companies using it to stop spamming me.

Oct 26, 2014

So what your really saying is that there is no real way to get rid of this, that we have no choice, even though it is my purchased soft and hardware, and my paid for connection, and that advertisers have priority over consumers.  I personally will never buy products from any of theses ads I come across.  Since these companies could care less about me, I will never give them a cent of my money. 

Nov 01, 2014

Kelli, that's exactly what she's saying. Google will tell you that themselves. 

Jul 04, 2015

Do you purchase products that are advertised in tv commercials? A tv is similar because you purchased the hardware (tv), paid for the connection (tv provider), and still receive ads.

Jul 07, 2016

The difference is that TV ads do NOT make it impossible to view the program. We know down to the second when the ads will appear and how long they will be, which makes them perfect for checking on dinner or a head break.
AdChoices keep updating the web page, changing where the cursor is, and making it impossible to click on a link until the refresh completes, which can be up to 8-9 seconds. We spend more time waiting for functionality to return to the web page than actually reading anything.

Sep 09, 2016

The websites you are using do not belong to you. They are essentially software that the publisher puts out for you to view through your equipment and software. It is completely within their rights and ethical to show ads to people who want to view their websites (their property). Telling them not to serve ads would be like me telling you that you cannot put a poster on your wall when I enter your house because I don't want to see it.

If you want to get rid of advertisements, do not visit any websites that have any advertisements. Use only public, government-funded websites and see where that leaves you.

Nov 10, 2014

AdChoice and other ilk need to go the way of a vortex into another dimension.  I am sick and tired of trying to read articles and only to be able to see the ads cover the article.  To the ilk at Google, there is no incentive for me to click on any of the ads.  It is time that the despotic kings at Google realize not everyone is into unncessary advertisement.  

Sep 09, 2016

Your complaint should be directed at the publishers of these articles that you apparently want to read. The publisher owns the article, and the way it is presented. And the only way it can be worth the publisher's time and money to present these articles to you is if they can make money doing so. If you can think of a way for publishers to give you what you want for free without losing money themselves, please enlighten us.

Jan 04, 2015

i couldn't care one bit what the fucking company wants. i sam ick and tired of these fucking things popping up as i am trying to read a paragraph and my curor rolls over it.

how do i turn them off in ie.11 ?!?!

Jan 19, 2015

I would like to know about how to have and manage a ad choice account.

Mar 08, 2015

When a video ad starts up automatically without warning or an ad slides over content I'm reading, that ticks me off seriously. But when clicking an X to close an ad brings up another ad, that calls for the nuclear option, IOW, I close out the website, never to return.

Apr 06, 2015

I happened upon this article because I am researching advertising options for my own websites and blogs. Having noticed the AdChoices mark on the targeted ads, and their relevance to what I have already been looking at, I figured it was worth researching.

I have read some of the comments above and agree with much of them. I do not like advertising that requires more bandwidth to load than the content requires. I also don't like when the advertising comes from a server that runs too slow to release the website to be read. I also do not like video advertising of any kind, if it auto-runs without my permission. Those things and more will help me decide what ads I place on my websites.

BTW... Like any other medium, I fully support a website owner's right to make advertising income. But I also know that I won't continue to watch a TV show that gives me 45 minutes of ads for 15 minutes of programming.

abhay Singh
Apr 08, 2015

Nice explanation, Awesome content.

Emma S
May 23, 2015

Interesting - Especially the comment about the video ads and not being able to pause/mute them. I know that annoys the heck out of me

Richie Rich
May 29, 2015

Does adchoice has publisher system?

Nov 06, 2015

Advertising based on my internet use is PERVERSE. But I am an IT expert, yes I am and I tell users how to trick the system. I also have a huge international foot print and ANY product that gets advertised on my desktop gets discontinued. Today I canceled some godaddy accounts. Others I have done is closed a bank account and stopped shopping at a supermarket. So, good luck on being perverse!

Jan 11, 2016

Do AdChoice logos appear on static jpegs as well as HTML5 units?

Keith Krupp
Mar 29, 2016

Thank you for the explaination of Adchoices. Wow, lots of negative comments. I do agree that videos that start automatically are annoying, but I have no issue with re-targeting ads that are images or animated GIFs (why not see something you are interested in rather than something completely random). I think most of the time it is about branding impressions and not necessarily about getting the click through with Adchoices.

Apr 10, 2016

The only thing the "opt" portion does is change ads. AdChoices ignores your option anyway. I can't go to Lowe's .com or anywhere and look at anything because after that, AdChoices will spam my screen with whatever I looked at. Mind you, not just one or two AdChoices pop up. sometimes a half dozen different windows. Invariably, they freeze control of my screen and take it over for their own perverse purposes. I type 60 words a minute. Or if it's a screen with AdChoices on it, I type maybe 10 words a minute, because the popups take 90% of the bandwidth. My text comes up on the screen in a different order than I typed it, keys pressed don't show up on the screen even when I bang the key 10 times, and forget about opening say, Yahoo! videos (which most of their stories are now videos). Here's a typical scenario. I click on a Yahoo story. It opens in a minimized window. I hit the maximize button for 20 seconds before it maximizes. Then I hit scroll. Nope, nothing doing. 30 seconds in, finally, a 30 second commercial ad begins to play in the Yahoo! window. It may be a 20 second content video but nope, it's a 30 second commercial. Then, once that 50 seconds went by (20 seconds for the window to even open and maximize, and 30 seconds for the commercial), then, an AdChoices ad (or 2, or 3) starts playing their own movies, thereby freezing the barely-wanted Yahoo! content video. Ok, then I want to comment on the video. I try to scroll down too the comment section. The scroll isn't working. Oh, that's right, the ad-scam popup virus called AdChoices is busy jacking itself up. So it scrolls as though it has constipation but finally, I get down to the comment section. I start typing (this screen is working well by the way, and by contrast). So I may type this: "My opinion on Trump's wall by Mexico is" will come out like this yop oion ont Rumps wll a byxiMco wallb y." Yup, that's what your precious AdCoices does. I am ready to log off the internet for good. Certainly, I am reado to smash this AdChoices infected computer, buy an Apple, cancel my internet service and find another... and never ever log onto Yahoo! again.

Alvin RObert Glori
Jun 01, 2016

are adwords and adchioce good for backlink increase? Is it violating google rules?

Tom C
Jun 02, 2016

Funny, what we used to call spyware is now accepted and has rendered the majority of (what used to be worthwhile) websites useless. It's a damned shame.

AdChoices has singlehandedly ruined the internet user experience.

Jun 16, 2016

AdChoices is the worst piece of garbage I've seen by Google ever. The news pages are starting to look like comic books with all the glitter ads and rolling videos. Can't stand any of them. Who told websites to adutomatically roll videos on my page? Idiots!!!!

Well, there's the PERFECT solution: Adblock Plus! It works in Windows and Mac OS X! Get it and you'll never see ads again, and not only that, you can click on any element on a page, including those stupid videos, and block them forever! Happy Ending! Win for me, Google, you lose.

Rajeev Singh
Aug 24, 2016

I usually block ads using my browser plugin and antivirus software (I am using ESET Antivirus) to filter ads and other pop up ads.

Sep 09, 2016

This is a wonderful article - thank you for taking the time to write this. Many SEM folks don't even know how this kind of targeting works and how users can control the relevancy of the ads they are served. It's a shame that (judging by the comments) most people do not understand the benefits of AdChoices (compared to the web without AdChoices), or how digital publishing works in general.

mta architects
Dec 03, 2016

very nice ...realy its very useful article for me !!! thanx ....

Dec 08, 2016

Nice post really informative, i m still having the doubt that does adsense or adchoice ads better ?

George Dunham
Mar 06, 2017

I think it's tacky beyond belief to call up a newspaper article that concerns a local teen who was killed in an auto accident yesterday, and right there in text of the article is a block of advertising for a nearby auto dealer. You folks need to do some research on what is and isn't appropriate.

Mar 12, 2017

Hello, What are any effect on earning money from adchoice? please tell me..

Tom H
May 13, 2017

I am a student in college that just got done with an business marketing class. We participated in the Google online marketing challenge. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a chance for students to use $250 that Google "gives" them to create an advertising campaign. The campaign runs for three weeks and the winner gets to fly to the Google campus in California and they get lots of free stuff. This is a world wide contest that gives the opportunity to students to see how ads work, what works and what doesn't. You get an opportunity to track and adjust your ads to appeal to your audience. There are many variables that go into making a successful marketing campaign and I was responsible, along with my group, to monitor and adjust the ads during the contest to try to win.

Okay, that is the cool part about AdWords, here is the problem I have with it all. I am not a marketing major so I'm not biased towards marketing campaigns or how they work good or bad. I have been having a problem with my internet connection and I called my cable company to get it resolved. I am paying for a 200 Mbps connection and I was asked by Cable One to go to and run the speed test. AdChoices ads showed up on all four sides of the screen. I clicked on the AdChoices icon to try to opt out and went through the process and still got ads when i refreshed my screen. I ran the test multiple times and got around 32 to 36 Mbps. The cable guy came out a couple days later and ran a test on the same website on my connection using my cable and got a consistent 172 to 180 Mbps. He told me to run it on my computer to show him and the first thing he said is that my screen didn't look like his, so i must be on the wrong website. I typed it again and it showed up the exact same but with different ads. He politely told me that it was my computer and tested the connection one more time before he left and he got his 180 that he had been getting. Later that day I called my brother who is tech support for Lockheed Martin and we went through hardware scans, virus scans and malware scans and found nothing more than a few cookies that these scans didn't like, which were promptly deleted. Then we checked the TCP/IP connections and here is what I saw, I had 5 connections while all the browsers were closed and then I opened Google Chrome and it instantly went to 125 at the Google search page, you know the one, its the page that only has the search bar and the Google logo. Then I went to the and all the ads showed up and my connections went to an outrageous 370. It fluctuated up and down by about 30 to 50 connections. I know that it takes connections to load web pages but I was alarmed at the number of connections that it took to load the page and all the ads.

All of this to say that I loaded Adblock Plus into Firefox and have almost no ads, I currently have 125 TCP and UDP connections and I am connecting at 89 Mbps. I looked up the details on my laptop and found out it has an older 10-100 network card so the fastest connection I can have is 100 Mbps due to the hardware restrictions. The connections that are currently open are just "listening" and are not passing traffic until i click on a link or move to another web page.

So my gripe is not with ads or the advertisers, it's the fact that I am paying to see the ads by sacrificing bandwidth that affects the speed of my internet connection. I understand that businesses have to advertise and that means that I see the ads. Its like the comments about the commercials mentioned in the other posts, they are going to show up to help us continue getting free content. But is the content really free... I am not getting what I'm paying for and I'm not okay with that.

And by the way Google is not the only culprit they are just the most popular. I copied this from Wikipedia so don't be upset with just Google. Be aware.

The AdChoices self-regulatory programs have over 200 participants. Participants include Aol, AT&T, Bloomberg, Comcast, Conde Nast, Dow Jones, Facebook, General Motors, Google Inc., Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Taboola, Yahoo!, and many others.

Hemant Sharma
Jun 02, 2017

Really It was disgusting. And I was getting no solution of adchoices. Even I can't surf on my laptop. Thanks for the solutions. Thanks a lot.

hma ikbal
Nov 28, 2017

I have 40 posts and getting few visitor. I have already made some SEO. and getting 30-50 visitor per day. can i apply for ads choice? or wait for some days.

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