Google Video Ads to Get Way More Personal

John Lister's picture

The content of video ads you see on YouTube could be personalized based on your online history, thanks to new advertiser tools. The video clips could automatically adjust based on sites you've visited, apps you've downloaded and even the places you've been.

It's all possible thanks to Google offering a series of new tools for advertisers. One is known as "Custom Affinity Audiences," which means ads aren't simply placed next to (or before) relevant videos. Instead they are specifically targeted at users who are likely to find the content relevant.

While the tool has already been available for some time, it was based only on a user's search history in YouTube itself. Now, the tool can be programmed to use all sorts of information that Google collects about web users, including searches, app use and maps data. (Source:

Personalized Video Ads Auto-Created

Another new tool known as "Director Mix" means that the content of the ad itself will be customized to the user - even though the ad is a video. To make this possible, the advertiser gives Google a large set of video clips, background screens with logos, on-screen wording and voiceover clips.

The tool will then combine these to make a specific video that is likely to appeal to the particular user. An initial test from McDonalds was able to create 77 unique videos, but Google says the tool could produce hundreds or even thousands of different clips. (Source:

One example would be an ad for a retail chain that combined a general message about Black Friday. This video might show people shopping alongside images or video of specific offers that would appeal to the viewer's interests, and then an on-screen map of their nearest store and opening hours.

Advertisers Can Run Sequential Campaign

It's not yet confirmed if Google will be able to combine the two tools. If so, it could create even more personalized ads. For example, an ad for golf equipment could include photos of specific courses that the viewer had visited, as shown by their smartphone location data.

Google is also offering a tool that lets advertisers 'program' a series of ads to appear to a user in a specific order. This wouldn't mean running them straight after one another, but rather, over time the user would see the ads in the desired sequence. The idea here is to allow more creative ad campaigns, such as ones telling an episodic story.

What's Your Opinion?

Are you surprised such technology is now possible? Is it reasonable for Google to combine data about individuals in this way? Is it any different morally to existing text-based ads such as Amazon emailing customers with personalized suggested purchases?

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nospam_5346's picture

I've never understood personalized ads. I've opted out of them as much as possible, but obviously still get some. The problem with them is that they are for things I have already bought or have decided not to buy or have decided to buy, but have already decided where I'm going to buy it.

None of them have been relevant in the least.

I don't want to know about things I've already bought or things that are similar. After all, I already bought the one I want.

For an ad to have any relevance to me whatsoever, it would have to be about something I have no clue about and wouldn't have thought of myself. If it interests me, then I would investigate.