Google's "Shared Endorsement ads.

Opting Out: What Google Shared Endorsement Ads Mean For You

You’ll soon start to see your friends’ photos and endorsements showing up in Google ads. If you don’t want your face showing up in ads that they see, there’s a simple way to remove yourself.

Google goes ad age

Google's "Shared Endorsement ads.
Examples of Google’s “Shared Endorsement ads. (Source: Google)

On Nov. 11, Google will start using names, faces and comments in ads it serves up to others. If you’ve written a positive review of a business on Google+ or liked something on YouTube or Google Play, your face could be used in ads for that item. This applies not only to Google searches; it could also appear on any of the 2 million websites in the Google ad network, according to a CNN story. If you use Google to sign into third party application – such as OpenTable or Fitbit – your activities there could be used for Google’s shared endorsement ads.

Personal information should be just that: personal

I’m all for social sharing and I use peer reviews in making purchase decisions, but I don’t want my face or name used in ads. My main objection is that Google is making money from that ad and  they aren’t paying me anything. As soon as a review transitions into an ad, you’re in the business of selling something, and I don’t want to be part of that commercial endorsement without full control or any real benefits. So, I’ve opted out. You can too. Fortunately, Google has made doing so pretty easy.

To remove yourself from Google ads, follow these steps:

  1. While logged into Google+, go to “Settings” and look under “Google+”
  2. Look for the “Shared Endorsements” section and click “Edit”
  3. Read the explanation and uncheck the box giving Google permission to use your name and photo in ads.

Uncheck the box to remove yourself from Google Shared Endorsement Ads

The fine print

Even after you opt out of ads, your endorsements will continue to show up in organic (non-advertising) search results. There is no way to remove that unless you simply don’t “like” or +1 anything. To me, that is fine and is actually a benefit of the network. Users under 18-years-old will not be used in shared endorsement ads.

To be fair, I should note that Facebook has been using user names and photos in ads. There is currently no way to opt out of your appearance in Facebook ads.

The bottom line: Google has given you the ability to remove your name and face from ads served to others. If you don’t want to appear in ads, you don’t have to. But you do have to make the choice to keep your social influence your own.