Fresh on the heels of Facebook announcing a major overhaul of how its News Feed delivers content to users, Google has decided to get in on the user experience party, too. Per an announcement from Jon Krafcik, Google’s Group Product Manager of Data Privacy and Transparency, the search juggernaut is building on the “Mute this Ad” feature it rolled out in 2012.

In short, Google is giving prospects more ways to avoid our attempts at wooing them with remarketing ads.

Why? And how will this affect your remarketing campaigns?

Great question.

Mute(iny) in the Ranks

In the customer-facing world, Google refers to remarketing ads as “reminders.” How quaint. At any rate, the “Greater Control” Google has promised users comes in two flavors: Ad Settings and Mute Ads features.

adwords remarketing changes mute ads

Users have had the ability to alter their ad settings for years. This was a place for you to endorse or rebuke what Google perceives to be your topics of interest. These categories—ranging from “Beauty and fitness” to “finance” to “TV comedies”—are used by advertisers in contextual targeting in order to find new customers. You’ll also find your gender and age range, both of which are targeting methods used by advertisers to serve relevant prospects equally relevant ads.

Finally, there’s long been an option to turn ad personalization off entirely, which would ensure that no business using the Display Network can serve you banner creative based on habits and demographics. (Note that there are hundreds of other ad networks out there who can still leverage whatever they know about you to sell you widgets and baubles.) Personally, I’d rather see ads for stuff I want than Socker Boppers and sterling silver Tiffany’s tableware, but maybe that’s just me.

As of, well, now, Google has added an extra section to the Ad Settings interface: “Your Reminder ads.”

mute google reminder ads

Here, you can find a list of the places that are currently serving you remarketing er uh um “reminder” ads. Muting an ad will remove it from your screen (across all devices, mind you) for 90 days. After that point, you’ll be eligible to be advertised to again. You can view the ads you’ve already muted by bouncing over to the “Muted Reminder Ads” section of the interface (shown above).

Which brings me to the other change Google just announced.

Google Expands the “Mute Ads” Function

Per Google, “Millions of people use Mute this Ad on a daily basis, and in 2017, we received more than 5 billion pieces of feedback telling us that you mute ads that aren’t relevant.”


Google’s “Mute This Ad” feature has been changed in two important ways. First, as I mentioned earlier, the tool now functions across devices; if you mute an ad on your desktop, you’ll also be exempt from seeing it on your phone (provided you’re browsing while logged in to the same Google profile). You’ll also find that the “Mute” function is now available in more places; Google is “expanding this control to work across more apps and websites that partner with Google to show ads.”

google remarketing ad mute process

Right now, the impact of Google’s expanded reminder-muting will only be felt on the Display Network; that being said, there are plans to roll it out across YouTube, Gmail, and, yes, Search, in the coming months.

What Can You Do?


Just kidding. While you can’t stop your prospects from muting your remarketing ads, you can improve the remarketing experience in hopes of avoiding the dreaded mute button. Here are a handful of things you can do to bolster engagement and, hopefully, steer clear of 90-day advertising purgatory.

Serve more relevant ads

This one’s obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. I mean, if billions of ads were muted last year, it stands to reason that a good chunk of them weren’t particularly good. Even though some prospects are blocking dynamic remarketing ads (you know, the ones that show you exactly what’s sitting in your shopping cart), I’d venture to guess that the majority of ad creative that gets muted is, well, subpar.

example of dynamic remarketing ad

Don’t have a graphic designer on your staff? You can always try a service like Fiverr (pay a stranger $5ish to make you some remarketing ads), attempt to make something passable with the built-in AdWords Display ad tool, or, you know, leverage your favorite cross-platform digital advertising software’s powerful, machine-learning tool that turns existing creative assets into dope ads.

Implement frequency capping

Berate. Stalk. Pummel.

These are not good words for describing interaction with prospects and customers. In fact, they’re indicative of awful user experience. And while brute force “hey, look at me, remember me, buy me”-ing folks to death can be effective, it’s also hella frustrating for prospects.

Guess what? You can still remarket without being an annoyance by using frequency capping

limited adwords frequency capping

In the advanced features under a Display/Remarketing campaign’s settings tab, you can adjust the number of viewable impressions for a given ad. By default, this is set to “No limit on viewable impressions.” Fix this.

Exclude purchasers from remarketing campaigns

If someone already bought your product, there’s no need to continue to blast them with ads for it. Instead, exclude them (and upsell later!).

To exclude an audience in AdWords, head over to the “Audiences” tab and click “Exclusions.”

adwords remarketing audience exclusions

From here, simply add a list of converters, purchasers, whathave you, to ensure that you aren’t pestering people who’ve already paid you.

Shift some remarketing budget to Facebook

Last, but certainly not least, if you find that Google’s expanded mute functionality is hampering your remarketing efforts, why not kick some of your budget over to Facebook?

Facebook allows you to create Custom Audiences to get your ads in front of

  • Website visitors: People who have visited your website or specific pages within a certain period.
  • Contact lists: People who have shared their email or phone number with your company (e.g., they’ve signed up for your newsletter or attended one of your webinars).
  • App users: People who have used your app.

While the social network’s going through some changes, too, it’s still a place to reach and engage prospects at a granular level with dynamic ad creative.