A new report by consumer privacy organization TRUSTe indicates a high level of awareness that internet activities are being tracked for purposes of targeting advertising, and a high level of concern associated with that tracking, even when it isn’t associated with personally identifiable information.
Behavioral targeting has become a hot button issue recently, as industry enthusiasm for delivering customized experiences and improved marketing metrics runs up against consumer privacy concerns and calls for greater transparency around emerging tracking and targeting techniques. Based on the results of the survey, lack of transparency may factor into privacy concerns. 71 percent of online consumers are aware that their browsing information may be collected by a third party for advertising purposes, but only 40 percent are familiar with the term “behavioral targeting.” 57 percent of respondents say they are not comfortable with advertisers using that browsing history to serve relevant ads, even when that information cannot be tied to their names or any other personal information.
An overwhelming majority (91 percent) of respondents expressed willingness to take necessary steps to assure increased privacy online when presented with the tools to control their internet tracking and advertising experience, suggesting a need for added education, transparency and choices for behavioral targeting. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) would choose to see online ads only from online stores and brands that they know and trust and 44 percent of respondents would click buttons or icons to make that happen.
To the contrary, a similar proportion of consumers (42 percent) say they would sign up for an online registry to ensure that advertisers are not able to track browsing behaviors, even if it meant that they would receive more ads that are less relevant to their interests. This division poses a serious dilemma for BT practitioners and industry privacy advocates, because consumers say they want more relevant advertising, but don’t want to be tracked in order to get it.
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