Consumers need more information and education about online privacy and online behavioral advertising (OBA), according to new research. The study, from the Internet Advertising Bureau and business law firm Olswang, found that 72% of internet users are unaware of online behavioral advertising – the practice used to deliver relevant advertising based upon previous web browsing activity. In addition, 81% of internet users do not know the control they have over behavioral advertising, in particular their right to opt-out.
The report also found that 74% of internet users are comfortable with behavioral advertising when given further information about what information is collected and how it can be controlled
The study of over 1000 internet users, conducted by Basis research agency, found that appeal of behavioral advertising increased from 23% to 75% once consumers were given further information, such as what information is actually collected and used and their right to opt-out.
When asked about online privacy, the survey found that 50% of respondents said they trusted the internet as a medium (in terms of it being safe and secure) more than five years ago.
The younger demographic (16 – 24 year olds) are far more comfortable with the internet. 65% of this age group claimed to find the internet a trusted medium, compared to five years ago.
Additionally, 90% of respondents have shared their personal data (ie name, email, street address) with at least one type of website, with shopping sites (73%) and banking sites (71%) being the most popular.
Almost a third of respondents (28%) of respondents have shared their personal data with social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, and were comfortable in doing so.
Only 1% of respondents believed the personal data they shared online was not secure at all, with 94% who were happy to do so and felt it was secure.
The research also qualitatively investigated what negative views people had about online behavioural advertising, in order to inform future communications and address any misinformed myths surrounding it.
Of those respondents who initially found online behavioural advertising unappealing (20%) before understanding how it works and the benefits, reasons included that it feels invasive, that people are concerned that personal data will be stored permanently without their knowledge, and also that other companies would somehow have access to their personal data.
“As online becomes more about the internet user and ads become more targeted, it’s never been so important to consider and respect consumers in order to keep digital marketing popular, and effective,” said head of regulatory affairs at the IAB, Nick Stringer.
“That’s why investment in attitudes and levels of understanding are key to the development of the online behavioural advertising industry.”
He added, “This research highlights the need for further education and supports our approach in providing greater reassurance about behavioural advertising.
“We know that once internet users are presented with all the facts the appeal of targeting advertising increases, and the IAB and its members are dedicated to making this happen.”