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Google now lets you mute 'reminder ads' that follow you around the internet

Google now lets you mute 'reminder ads' that follow you around the internet
Google says its ad network reaches 90% of internet users in the world. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

You browse a store online for an item but don't make a purchase. Then advertisements begin appearing on websites and apps you visit, reminding you of that item.

These are called reminder ads, and Google says it now will allow anyone to mute them on any apps or sites that partner with it.

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"Reminder ads like these can be useful, but if you aren't shopping for Snow Boot Co.'s boots anymore, then you don't need a reminder about them," Jon Krafcik, group product manager of data privacy and transparency at Google, said in a blog post Thursday.

Apps and sites can be muted by visiting Google's Ad Settings, which requires a Google account. The muting applies to both mobile and desktop browsing.

Although not all reminder ads run through sites partnered with Google, the overwhelming majority do. Google says its ad network reaches 90% of the world's internet users.

Google — a division of Alphabet Inc. — said it plans to expand the muting option to include its other properties: YouTube, Search and Gmail.

By offering to mute reminder ads, Google can demonstrate a commitment to privacy and transparency without sacrificing much ad revenue, said Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at New York University's Stern School of Business.

"Retargeting creates a decent number of 'creepy' moments, and giving people the chance to switch off is an attempt to starch their hat white without sacrificing any real revenue," Galloway said. "Consumers are lazy, and a small number will go through the hassle of enacting the controls."

Twitter: @dhpierson

UPDATES:

8:25 a.m.: This article was updated with comment from marketing professor Scott Galloway.

This article was originally published at 7:45 a.m.

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