By Jessica Lee, contributor for Search Engine Watch:
Would you like the ability to target ads based on parental status? It looks like Google AdWords is testing that feature in the U.S., and WordStream was first to spot it.
WordStream Founder and CTO Larry Kim published a screenshot showing a new tab called “parental status” in the AdWords dashboard. The designation has three settings: “parent,” “not a parent” and “unknown.”
A Google spokesperson told WordStream that “interest-based ads on our display network, including parental interests, have been around since 2009. We’ve made some changes to this in the Adwords interface for display campaigns. It uses the same system based on website visitation and users can edit or opt out of these ads on our Ads Settings page. As always, we don’t allow ads to be targeted to sensitive categories like health, race or sexuality.”
A Google representative separately posted about the new feature in a Google Partners community group back on June 10, saying, “This is a new feature that’s rolling out to the U.S. only. Right now, it’s available to 5 percent of advertisers and later in June, it will be launched to 100 percent in U.S.”
And even though Google said it would not allow ads to target “sensitive categories,” Kim wondered if it had gone too far already with the new parental status designation.
“This isn’t just a great way for advertisers to reach increasingly granular audiences with their advertisements, it’s also a glimpse into the possibilities of what Google could offer advertisers in the future,” Kim said. “They’ve already supported targeting by Age, Gender, Interests, and now Parental Status. Could we eventually see demographic subsets based on race? Sexual orientation?
“The more data advertisers have the better (for them), but is Google going too far? I’m sure many of us remember the brouhaha Target found itself in when it started marketing coupons and other promotional offers to expectant teen mothers.” (Kim is referring to this advertising debacle Target was engulfed in a couple years back.)
Regardless of potential backlash, Kim said “the targeting potential of this feature is enormous.”