Online Users Say They Want More Relevant Ads, But With Privacy Controls Attached

November 8, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Privacy & Security

DAA-Targeted-Online-Ads-and-Privacy-Options-Nov2013Asked how they would like online advertising to evolve in the future, a plurality 36.5% of respondents to a Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) survey chose the option that ads should be more relevant to their interests, about twice as many than chose the option that ads should be more generic (19%), according to a new study [pdf]. But a variety of measures would ensure more comfort with receiving those ads, according to the survey results.

About 6 in 10 respondents would be feel much (31.4%) or somewhat (29.9%) more comfortable about receiving relevant advertising based on some of their internet surfing activity if the companies providing the ads were required to:

  • Allow the users, at any time, to opt out of having their information collected and used to make ads more relevant based on their web surfing interests;
  • Participate in enforcement programs and submit to public sanctions if they fail to meet their obligations; and
  • Ensure that they don’t collect or use any of the users’ sensitive financial or medical data.

Recent research has indicated that online users often respond to ads with actions other than clicks – but the DAA study suggests that privacy options might encourage more ad clicks. Specifically, about half of the respondents said they would be much (20.3%) or somewhat (31%) more likely to click on an online ad that clearly displayed an icon (either on or next to the ad itself) that informed them about ad-related information collection and provided them with an opportunity to opt out.

The DAA has found in a previous survey that users were generally opposed to a law that restricted the use of data for advertising, although that question was explicitly tied to less availability of free content, which likely skewed the results. Given how agenda-driven this issue can be, it’s always worth looking at other perspectives: a recent Microsoft-supported survey from Consumer Action found that internet users overwhelmingly disagree with the premise that they find online tracking to be harmless if it results in their being shown more relevant ads. Again, though, the wording of that question was a little suspect, and indeed, elsewhere in the study, a slight majority of respondents strongly (28%) or somewhat (27%) agreed with the statement: “You believe that being tracked online is the price of using the internet.”

About the Data: The DAA data is based on a Zogby Interactive Survey of 1,004 US Adults conducted 10/17/13 ”“ 10/18/13. The margin of error was +/- 3.2% points.

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