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Study Says Consumers Do Not Want Behavioral Ads

They "just say no".

7:51 am on Oct 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

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A study by the University of Pennsylvania and the Berkeley Centre for Law and Technology is being reported on in the press:

[theregister.co.uk...] :

Research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the Berkeley Centre for Law and Technology has found that 66% of adult US citizens do not want advertising to be tailored to what advertisers think are their interests.

[computerweekly.com...] :

Privacy advocates said the research would give authorities a political green light to enact reasonable rules and policies.

The US Congress is considering such legislation, it was revealed after a coalition of 10 privacy campaigners published a 13-page report about behavioural tracking.

The full report is available:
Title: Contrary to what marketers say, Americans Reject Tailored Advertising and three activities that enable it.
Authors: Joseph Turow, Jennifer King, Chris Jay Hoofnagle, Amy Bleakley, and Michael Hennessy

Contrary to what many marketers claim, most adult Americans (66%) do not want marketers to tailor advertisements to their interests. Moreover, when Americans are informed of three common ways that marketers gather data about people in order to tailor ads, even higher percentagesó between 73% and 86%--say they would not want such advertising.

And if you think your "facebook/mysapce/... " generation audience cares less, you might be right, but still the majority is against it:

Our survey did find that younger American adults
are less likely to say no to tailored advertising than are older ones. Still, more than half (55%) of 18-24 year-olds do not want tailored advertising.

And if you count on mercy, the respondents are quite unforgiving when it does go wrong:

Beyond a fine, companies that use a personís information illegally might be punished in other ways. Which one of the following ways to punish companies do you think is most important?

The company should fund efforts to help people protect privacy 38
Executives who are responsible should face jail time 35
The company should be put out of business 18
The company should not be published in any of these ways 3
It depends 2
DK 4

DK=Donít Know

So, have you opted out of interest based ads yet ?
Or are you ready to face a jury where 66% hates what you do and more than half wants you to either serve time or go out of business if it does goes wrong (there is now a very low cap of $2500) ?

[edited by: swa66 at 7:59 am (utc) on Oct. 2, 2009]

10:08 pm on Oct 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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We have wire tap laws going back to 1923, arguably not IN the US Constitution, but have become law of the land, and redefined in 1979, 1986, and 1999 which DO codify "privacy" at the Federal level, and has been adopted (in most States).

I am not a UK legal scholar, but from what I read and encounter from time to time on issues similar, the British government recognizes the same, as do the French, Germans, and Spanish.

Not attempting to sidetrack the topic, only reminding/reinforcing that USER PRIVACY is a significant issue on the web and that G has been undermining that (as did DoubleClick, Beacon, Phrom, RevSci, etc.) from the beginning of the "targeted advertising" implementation.

Do I blame these companies for wanting what all PRINT advertisers have craved since the first time ink was put on paper? No... but I can question their METHODS for obtaining that metric... and that is the true question.

There's no doubt in my mind that everyone running Adsense would like to know WHO CLICKED AND WHY AND WHERE ARE THEY SO I CAN DO MORE OF THE SAME (not shouting!) And you'd like to know how old they are, what their income range is and what did they buy last and what are they looking at now, etc. etc. etc. I know you want it... I would.

I just draw the line as to how invasive I will gather that info!

11:41 am on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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This is our visitors as webmasters telling us they hate behavioral tracking in advertising (ads, coupons, and news: all of it), and regardless of how invasive it is done.

As they learn more about how behavioral marketing is done on the web they hate it even more.

The issue we as publishers have is one where our visitors will become more aware of -in their eyes- unwanted advertising techniques and hence more resistance to our ads or more blocking of the ads we run.

With all due respect: The question of who's right, who wants what based on what laws is all nice, but quite irrelevant when it comes to issues between us and our visitors.
Or are you ready to alienate your visitors ?

Even all of us together, including the likes of Google: is this behavioral tracking really worth the risk of users installing more ad blockers ? Cause it would seem that there are enough organizations out there who'll tell them some sorts of ads are bad. Do we really expect John Doe to understand the difference between the different ads and tracking methods and not conclude "ads are evil" ?

1:03 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I was recently approached by a big player in the behavioral targeted advertising space about running some code for them to collect behavior data. They offered me a decent paycheck ($X,YZZ/month) and it would not take up one pixel worth of real estate on my site.

I turned it down because I felt uneasy about it. Why? Well for starters they would not tell me one other single publisher that is an active participant in their program. They claimed privacy issues. I Googled them and also could not find a single publisher talking about them. That seems odd for such a big company that has been around for 5 years now?

Second reason, I felt like it was a sneaky (creepy) thing to do to my users/visitors. I know most ad companies track user on pages that they run ads on. But at least they are showing their face on the page in the form of a display ad. There was just something about this service that didn't sit well with me.

It was a decent paycheck to pass on, but somehow I feel pretty good about my decision.

Am I a fool? What do you guys think?

1:13 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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No :)
The test before deciding what to do ..is always .."would you want to have this done to yourself or your family" ? :)

sometimes the answer only takes a nanosecond to to be obvious :)

4:24 pm on Oct 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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The distant waves are coming closer.

For years its been the advertising industry telling consumers that people like behavioural advertising, but research has consistently been saying the opposite thing.

Are we talking about something abstract? No, we're simply talking about a lot of personal information that can change hands by way of overly worded and abstract privacy and information policies that position the consumer as subordiante to business online. When it should be the other way around.

Forced privacy policies where acceptance of a website's terms is a requirement for access is fine, but only when this is s balanced with information that clearly sets out the privacy policy to the users, in a langauge that is easily understood. This simply doesn't happen.

The difference betwen what we have now and what came before internet was the amount of personal information that could be extracted from a consumer when they visited a store.

I think we need to arrive at a point where as a consumer you should EASILY be able to see, and understand every piece of information that is being sent by your interactions online. Even to get to that basic step nowadays and installing something to do this on a PC requires a degree in Internet Security, and that's saying something about the transparency of the industry.


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