Ever been searching Google for something and you saw an ad displayed and thought, "How the hell is that relevant?" Now with a single click you can see why Google paired that ad with you and block others from annoying sources.
The Big G has just unleashed some tools to allow for greater transparency in their advertising process. When you see an add in a Google search result or in Gmail, and you're wondering what that has to do with anything, all you need to do is click the "Why This Ad?" button, and it'll tell you. Alternatively you can click "Why These Ads?" and choose to block ads from a particular source. So if you know you will never, ever, want to buy some low-cost seal meat, you can just choose to block all incoming ads from the Marine Mammal Steak Co. and you'll never see such ads again, until you get a hankering and unblock them though your Ads Preferences Manager.
I think this is actually a great move on Google's part. Is it any coincidence that this is happening when Google and Facebook are under such scrutiny for their mysterious data-mining practices? Of course it isn't, but by taking the more transparent route, it makes Google seem like they've got nothing to hide.
That doesn't mean that you don't have anything to hide. If you're searching Google with your girlfriend and she asks, "Why are all of you Google ads for porn?" things could get awkward when she clicks "Why This Ad?" it says "Because 97% of your searches in the last month include the word 'boobs.'" Good luck blaming Google analytics now. [Google Blog via PC Mag]