Google Ads Transparency Center
Google wanted to create a more robust experience for users to manage and understand the advertisements they were seeing as well as provide information around all ads in an effort to increase transparency, accountability, and compliance with new EU standards.
While there were many facets to the overall effort, I was embedded into the internal Ads Privacy and Safety team. I supported this team with research, design, and prototyping around the new Ads Transparency landing page, search, results, and details.
Design the Ads Transparency Center landing page in such a way that the user can easily navigate ads, policies, and insights into public analytics.
Architect and design the ads search experience for ease of use.
Architect and design the search results experience distinguishing between general and political ads.
Architect and design the ad details experience.
Architect and design the disapproved ads experience to be implemented in select global regions.
Adhere to client and regulatory legal requirements.
Adhere to strict brand guidelines and practices for seamless collaboration with Google's internal UX Research and Design teams.
There were a number of aspects to this new experience that provided opportunities for research. Since the Ads Transparency Center (ATC) would be a template to support many different global regions and varying legal requirements and implications, every major feature of the experience was researched, reviewed, and run through a number of usability, user value, and legal checkpoints. Some of these features included:
Search and results components
Media type identification
Relevant links to related sources
Distinction between general and political ads
Insights for the display of analytics available and of interest to the public
Sampling of research for various features of the new experience
ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
The overall experience included many components that were unique or new that had to be thought through and planned out carefully with the oversight and support of many other Google teams. Due to the expansive and thoughtful design needs of Google we were fortunate to have many internal use cases for other products to reference but we also did extensive research externally to identify opportunities or pitfalls that could inform the team. Through these exercises we determined there would need to be architecture and design for a number of features as well as the experience as a whole.
The entry point into this new experience would be an Ads Transparency Center landing page. This page would be the hub for users looking to search specific advertisers and ads. While search would be the primary functional purpose for the page it also had to consider the fact the this would be a unique search experience with unfamiliar aspects to it. There was also a need to provide further insight into Google's ads policies and enforcement as well as provide current advertising insights.
Providing users the ability to search advertiser content across all Google properties was and still is a very new experience for users who are familiar with intelligent keyword searches. There were new criteria and categories that would be helpful for searching ads that users may not be aware of or consider. Therefore the experience needed to not only be extremely simple to understand and use, but also needed to help educate the user around the unique qualities of searching this content.
The landing page went through multiple iterations and review processes to determine what experience best met the requirements as well as simplified the experience for the user.
As unique as the search experience needed to be, the same was true for displaying search results. We needed to allow the user to identify and filter based on format (image, text, video). We also needed a way to distinguish between all ads and political ads. Then, depending on the type of ad, we would need to display and/or filter by relevant analytical data (location/time/impressions/ad spend).
Results pages for both general and political ads also went through multiple iterations and review processes.
For users looking to dig deeper into ads and their background information, the transparency center needed a way to incorporate much more specific details around advertiser tactics and targeting as well as consolidate ad versioning without adding clutter and confusion to the search results page. To accomplish this a second tier ad details page was developed that would allow the user to view ad versions and targeting qualifications. As this would be unfamiliar to many users it would also require supporting information to help the user understand the data being displayed.
A very unique requirement for this experience was the ability for users, in certain regions of the world, to be able to access ads that were denied and removed and/or removed for policy violations. This was perhaps the most challenging aspect of the experience due to the very complicated legal requirements imposed. There were very strong constraints that needed to be operated within that, often times, seemed to conflict with each other. As an example of this the team had to wrestle with complexities around displaying this information without showing the ad or revealing identifying information due to the sensitive nature of the policies that may have been violated.
The team explored numerous options for how to not only display this type of information but also how to make it quickly understandable to the user. This unique set of information also needed a way for the user to dig a little deeper beyond the initial comprehensive view (policy violation information, locations of violation and removal, dates last displayed, etc...).
Some of the many versions of display solutions for disapproved ads.
The insights dashboard was an important experience to include to help communicate to the user the breadth and depth of Google advertising as well as the great extent to which the company went in order to enforce policies and prohibit violations. There were a number of different data points to consider visualizing for inclusion.
Exploring various data sets and visualizations for the insights page.