Study: Almost 70% Of Consumers Give Thumbs Down To BT

Online ad companies that rely on tracking users across the Web in order to serve them tailored ads often say that behavioral targeting benefits consumers by enabling publishers to subsidize free content.

But a new poll of 840 Web users by Gallup/USA Today indicates that Web users aren't willing to trade online privacy for free content.

Almost seven in 10 survey respondents -- 67% -- said that they don't think advertisers should be allowed to collect data about the Web sites they visited in order to serve them with targeted ads. What's more, 61% also said that not even free content justifies the potential privacy issues posed by online ad targeting.

Web users "are overwhelmingly negative about whether it is OK for advertisers to use their online browsing history to target ads to them, suggesting they would largely welcome regulation to limit the use of such tactics," Gallup states in a post about the poll.



The results seem consistent with research last year by professors at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication and the University of California, Berkeley, showing that two-thirds of consumers don't want targeted ads.

Additionally, 37% of respondents in the Gallup poll said they would opt out of all online ad targeting if they could. This figure is in itself odd, given that people already can eschew all online ad tracking done by the major ad networks and others who follow industry guidelines, yet only a tiny percentage of Web users appear to do so through opt-out links.

While it's possible that some Web believe they're avoiding tracking by deleting their cookies -- as opposed to opting out through a link provided by a self-regulatory group or publisher -- it also seems plausible that some Web users don't want to receive targeted ads, but also don't realize that they have any choice. If so, one explanation could be that Web companies continue to inform people about online ad tracking and targeting in privacy policies that -- despite complaints by regulators -- remain too lengthy and complex to be informative.

5 comments about "Study: Almost 70% Of Consumers Give Thumbs Down To BT".
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  1. Timothy Daly from Vincodo, December 21, 2010 at 9:25 p.m.

    Just another unscientific study that deserves no real respect because it sought out sensationalism versus reality. If you are not going to ask survey participant "If it will cost $300 per month to access the internet versus your current $29.99, are you will to spend $3,600 per year for your privacy?". The reality is this is what we are talking about folks, these types of cost increases, not nickles and dimes.

  2. Reem Saied from AD MAGNET, December 22, 2010 at 3:51 a.m.

    Well said Timothy. This survey is simply junk as the question is framed to garner a specific response. The real cost of accessing quality Content will be exponentially higher without targeted advertising technology subsidizing them for users. No top network worth its salt collects PII in the first place anyways.

  3. Brooke Aker from ADmantX, December 22, 2010 at 11:12 a.m.

    In any business when the consumer expresses a dislike for some aspect of your product or service it is incumbent upon the industry to change. This does not mean give the option to opt-out. It should mean a blanket opt-in option where "do not track" is the norm unless otherwise specified by the consumer. Then the benefits of greater access to content can be used as an incentive to opt-in.

    In the meanwhile there are other targeting technologies that do not rely on tracking, cookies or invasion of privacy. At ADmantX we look strictly at the content on the page and analyze it deeply for people, places, things, emotions and motivations as the means for matching an ad. This is semantic targeting technology. It is this nexus of content and ad that is at the heart of good online advertising and goes no where near "creepy".

  4. Timothy Daly from Vincodo, December 22, 2010 at 2:47 p.m.

    Brooke, the reality is that users don't know whether they actually dislike it because they are not being told the whole story. You are assuming they do because they have responded to a survey designed to sensationalize the issue and not tell the respondent what is the alternative. The results would flip.

    Do people dislike TV advertising? Not at all. But they accept it because without advertising, they understand the cable bill increases to $500 per month or more. Despite their dislike for TV ads, they prefer to absorb them than pay $6,000 per year for cable TV. Same goes for print ads, but they are not going to pay $20 for a magazine. The same is true online, unfortunately those that support privacy are being disingenuous to that reality. Nobody is going to be willing to pay $4,000 or more per year to use the web and we don't need a survey to confirm this.

    Does the industry need to do a better job? Absolutely. But lets not be foolish and think that consumers are ready to shell out money they don't have to protect details that are not identifiable to them and can be deleted with a quick stroke.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 22, 2010 at 7:07 p.m.

    Tim, you didn't read everything Brooke said. It's not about people not liking advertisements, which is not really true. Who likes 6 minute ad pods on TV ? 6 minute are the keys words. There were ads before knocking into people's privacy and there can be ads now without it.

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