Consumers Display Lack of Comfort With Facebook Targeted Ads

July 23, 2012

placecast-consumer-comfort-data-use-july2012.pngConsumers who are aware of Facebook’s use of their profile information and posts to target ads towards them aren’t very accepting of this practice, according to survey results released in July 2012 by Placecast. Just one-third of these consumers say they are somewhat or very comfortable with it, the lowest proportion among the list of 7 data usage cases identified in the survey. By contrast, topping the list in terms of consumer comfort was grocery stores using purchase information to give coupons tailored to frequent purchases. 81% of consumers aware of this practice said they are very or somewhat comfortable with it.

The report notes an interesting outlier with respect to Facebook’s use of data: among those aware of it, women aged 18-34 were 58% more likely than average to indicate comfort with it (52% vs. 33%). Citing comScore and Nielsen as sources that indicate that these users make up some of the social network’s heaviest users, the report suggests that a correlation might be present between reliance on social networking and acceptance of data usage.

Amazon Gets High Marks

Meanwhile, data from Placecast’s “The Alert Shopper III,” conducted online by Harris Interactive, shows that Amazon’s use of data on purchases to promote items gets the nod from shoppers aware of this data use, with two-thirds saying they are very or somewhat comfortable with it. After grocery stores and Amazon, though, there a significant gap to the next tier of comfort with other forms of data use. For example, although Google’s use of past online searches for ad targeting is more accepted than Facebook’s use of profile information, the former only finds 41% of those hip to it being very or somewhat comfortable with the practice. Indeed, according to March 2012 survey results from Pew, while 59% of online consumers have noticed ads online directly related to things they recently searched for or sites they had recently visited, slightly more than two-thirds reported not being okay with these targeted ads. Targeted ads online aren’t always so distrusted, though, per July survey results from Bizrate Insights: the study indicates that a greater proportion of online consumers appreciate than don’t like retargeted ads (25% vs. 15%), with the majority neutral towards them.

Comfort With Local Offers Via Mobile Varies With Age

Further data from the Placecast study indicates low acceptance of cell phone service providers using location information from consumers phone to send local offers, even with their permission. Just 35% of those with knowledge of this indicated being at least somewhat comfortable with it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, comfort showed a clear trend along age lines. 47% of the 18-34 set said they were comfortable, falling to 38% of 35-44-year-olds, 34% of 45-54-year-olds, and just 23% of those 55 and over.

A University of California-Berkeley study also released in July found that 46% of mobile owners believe that providers should not keep their subscriber location information, and 92% would either probably (22%) or definitely (70%) not allow their provider to use their location to tailor ads to them.

Other Findings:

  • Among those aware of the practice, 38% said they were very or somewhat comfortable with merchants using location information from their mobile phone (with their permission) to send them local offers. Once again, acceptance of this was much higher among 18-34-year-olds than those 55 and older (51% vs. 27%).
  • Only 36% of consumers who are aware that credit card companies use data on purchases to send specific offers by postal or email are comfortable with it.

About the Data: The Placecast survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Interactive. Data was collected between February 16 and 24, 2012 among 2,262 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,952 own a standard cell phone or smartphone.

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