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BizReport : Advertising archives : September 30, 2009

New study finds Americans reject tailored advertising

Consumers simply don't like being tracked online, and the more they know about how they're being tracked the less they like it. Such are the findings of a study, released today, by the universities of Pennsylvania and California, Berkeley.

by Helen Leggatt

Two-thirds of Americans surveyed by the universities said they did not like the idea of ads being tailored to them via online tracking. However, once respondents were made aware of three common ways their activities were tracked online, that percentage rose to between 73% and 86%.

Armed with this knowledge an additional 20% of respondents were unhappy about being tracked in retail stores, 18% disliked being tracked via other websites and 7% said targeted ads were not acceptable when they were tracked on a website.

So incensed are consumers that the majority (92%) would support a law that required retail and advertising companies to delete all data held on a person, upon request. Sixty-nine percent would like to see a law in place that gives Internet users the right to be made privy to data a website has collected about them.

"I don't think that behavioral targeting is something that we should eliminate, but I do think that we're at a cusp of a new era, and the kinds of information that companies share and have today is nothing like we'll see 10 years from now," said Joseph Turow, co-author of the study and a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

The solution? Information respect. Educate consumers about the benefits of targeted advertising while providing them with a degree of control over what data is collected and how.

The 27-page report can be downloaded here. (.pdf)

Tags: behavioral targeting, online advertising, online tracking, tailored advertising

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