How to limit pregnancy, dating or weight loss ads on Gmail

You've just broken up with a long-term partner and have sworn off all things love-related for the foreseeable future—only, Google didn't get the memo. Ads for engagement rings and honeymoon packages keep popping up on YouTube and Gmail inboxes. If seeing these ads makes a breakup more painful, you can actually edit your Google ad personalization settings to limit the sensitive ads you see.

Back in December 2020, Google announced the rollout of advertising controls that would allow users to see fewer gambling or alcohol-related ads on YouTube. Google's new ad sensitivity feature is an extension of the update. Starting in late April, the setting now allows you to opt out of seeing ads in other potentially triggering categories, such as parenting and pregnancy, dating, or weight loss. According to TechCrunch, this will affect your ads on YouTube and Gmail, as well as ads on third-party sites populated by Google, but will not affect ads that appear in Google searches.

The option to turn off personalized ads already exists, and when you turn it off, you're less likely to receive ads for content you frequently search for or register for. For example, pet owners might receive ads for dog food or new leashes or other items they often search for. People who have recently lost a pet may consider turning off ad personalization so they don't see as many ads targeted to them. Opting out of targeted advertising will not prevent you from seeing ads, but it may make them less personal.

Here's how to opt out of specific ad categories, turn personal ads on or off, and edit the profile your Google Account has created for you.

How to turn off targeted ads on Google


Make sure you are signed in to your Google account via Gmail. Click your avatar in the upper right corner, then click Manage your Google Account. Click Data & Privacy on the left menu to get an overview of the data you share with Google and your current privacy settings. You'll see an overview box titled "Ads Settings," which will say whether ad personalization is on or off. Click the box to open the full ad settings profile. If your ad personalization is turned off, you'll see a snoozing bot and the option to turn it on. If it's turned on, you'll see an overview of the information Google gets from you, which it uses to curate ads they think may be relevant. You can turn it on or off at any time.

How to limit sensitive ads on Google


In order to restrict sensitive ads, you need to enable personalization. Scroll to the bottom of the Ad Settings page to find Sensitive Ad Categories on YouTube, a feature marked Beta (to indicate it's still in testing). From there, you can click "View Less" directly next to each sensitive category. When you click "View less," you'll see a pop-up letting you know that while you may see fewer ads specifically related to this topic, you won't see any fewer ads. The careful wording also suggests that Google isn't promising you'll never see an ad related to this category — you'll just see fewer.

How to edit ad personalization on Google


If your ad personalization is enabled, you may notice that some information isn't entirely correct. Maybe your age demographics are a few years behind, or they think you're married when you're very single, or think you're a homeowner when you're definitely not. To stop being served ads to people who better fit your sister's profile, you can click on any of these message bubbles to update and correct them, or simply close them and remove them from your profile. You can edit or delete these categories at any time.