2009 Archive

New Report Shows Most Americans Dislike Tailored Online Ads

By Andrew Cohen

A new consumer privacy report co-authored by the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (BCLT) has found that most Americans reject behavioral targeting—tailoring online advertisements based on an individual’s specific interests.

Prepared by BCLT and the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, the report analyzes the first nationally representative telephone survey to poll American opinion on this increasingly common marketing practice.

The report—Americans Reject Tailored Advertising—found that 66 percent of adults disliked tailored ads. That figure jumped to between 73 percent and 86 percent when survey participants were told of specific targeting techniques, such as tracking behavior on Web sites and in retail stores, that marketers used to create the ads.

“Marketers will have to take significant steps to overcome consumer discomfort with tailored advertising,” says co-author Chris Hoofnagle, director of BCLT’s information privacy programs and senior fellow for the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic.

Among those surveyed, 92 percent favored legislation requiring Web sites and advertising companies to delete all stored information about an individual if requested to do so. Sixty-three percent of the respondents agreed that advertisers should be required to delete Internet activity information immediately—with no request necessary.

More information about the report is available here.