British consumers have warned they could stop using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) browser over the software giant’s Do Not Track initiative, according to a new survey looking at online ad trends. The study, from MediaSyndicator, found that despite widespread concerns over data and privacy, 87% of UK consumers find benefits of online tracking services useful. The 2012 Digital Tracking Research was carried out by YouGov to poll the views of 1,987 UK adults aged 18+ on a range of digital tracking issues.
The Do Not Track plans, which turn off ad targeting and tracking functions by default, will lead to Brits online being exposed to even less relevant marketing and promotions – already a problem for over half of us (53 per cent), who say that the online advertising they are exposed to is rarely relevant to them.
While tracking technology is still treated with suspicion due to fears over how personal data is used, one in three Brits would stop using internet browsers – such as IE10 – if they automatically blocked websites from being able to retain information – such as password or auto-fill functions.
Confusion around cookies continues
The rejection of cookies, currently ‘opted out’ by 45 per cent of UK consumers, can be attributed to fears around privacy and confusion around how personal data is used, rather than objections to the actual functions that tracking technology serves.
Additionally, with just 1 per cent of Brits stating that the ads they receive are always relevant to them, the absence of tracking technology from browsers such as IE10 will mean that marketers will find it difficult to deliver intuitive and appropriate ad campaigns which create better cut-through with consumers. These results indicate that more consumer education around the purpose of tracking technology, which enables a more personalised and tailored web experience, is necessary.
Spyro Korsanos, CEO, Mediasyndicator commented: “With high-profile incidents of data mismanagement reaching the headlines daily, legitimate concerns exist around how consumers’ personal information is used and stored, and by whom. While Microsoft’s introduction of Do Not Track is being implemented as a step to allay these fears, it is evident that this initiative risks doing more to hinder consumers’ online experiences, than help them. Despite almost half of UK consumers opting out of cookies, our results show that these are actions borne more out of lack of knowledge and confusion about the purpose of tracking technology – which has actually been designed to improve and personalise the services offered to them on the web.”
Korsanos added: “With advertisers vying for consumer attention in a crowded market, the most effective ads are those which more creatively seek the engagement of users in contexts relevant to their interests. The backlash against tracking technology is also partly due to irritation amongst users being overly re-targeted with people having ads following them around on the web – something attributable to less human judgment in chain of automated ad technology and placements. In the absence of tracking technology, advertisers will find it harder to get a better handle on the profile and behaviour of their online audiences, meaning consumers’ will continue to be served with excessive and irrelevant promotions. Consumer data must be administered with care and their privacy respected, but eliminating tracking tools altogether will do little to improve the experience brands can offer consumers which is best achieved through the use of personalised advertising messaging.”