Consumers, Industry Split On Ethical Use Of Data To Target People Subconsciously

When it comes to the ethical use of people’s data, there is a market split between ad industry professionals and consumers.

Asked how ethical it is to use people’s identity, behavior or emotional data to target them subconsciously with ads, content and media, only 23% of advertisers and agency executives said it was somewhat or completely unethical vs. 57% of consumers, according to the results of two different surveys conducted recently on behalf of Research Intelligencer.

The ad industry results come from a survey of 305 advertiser and agency executives conducted by Advertiser Perceptions in October. The consumer results come from a survey of 600 average American adults conducted by Research Intelligencer and Pollfish Sept. 29.

Both studies were fielded in the wake of heightened media coverage surrounding questionable use of people’s data to target them without their awareness, including now defunct Cambridge Analytica, as well as Russian government sponsored Internet Research Agency.

As part of the Advertiser Perceptions study, Research Intelligencer also asked executives if they felt the industry has an ethical responsibility for the impact such practices have on society. Four-in-five (79%) said yes.

On the flip-side, two-in-five (39%) industry executives believe it is somewhat or completely ethical to use people’s identity, behavior and emotional data to target them subconsciously vs. only one-in-five consumers (20%).

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