Print in the Mix

Americans Reject Tailored Advertising And Three Activities that Enable It

In June and July 2009, The Annenberg School for Communication, UC Berkeley School of Law and the Annenberg Public Policy Center studied Americans’ opinions about behavioral targeting by marketers, such as following users’ actions and then tailoring advertisements for the users based on those actions.

Top Line Results from the Survey:

• The majority of adult Americans (66 percent) do not want marketers to tailor online advertisements to their interests.

• When Americans are informed of three common ways that marketers gather data in order to tailor ads (what you do on the Website you are visiting, what you did on other Websites you have visited, what you do offline—for example, in stores) even higher percentages—between 73 percent and 86 percent—say they would not want such advertising.

• Young adults express as strong an aversion to being followed online and offline as do older adults. Nearly seven of 10 (67 percent) 18- to 24-year-olds say they don’t want tailored advertising if it is based on tracking them on the Website they are visiting; 86 percent say they don’t want tailored advertising if it is based on tracking them on “other Websites” they have visited; and 90 percent reject it if it is the result of following what they do offline.

• When told that the act of following them on Websites will take place anonymously, respondents’ aversion to it remains high: 68 percent “definitely” would not allow it and 19 percent would “probably” not allow it.

• Majorities of respondents also do not want discounts or news fashioned specifically for them, though the percentages are smaller than the proportion rejecting tailored ads.

• 69 percent of respondents feel there should be a law that gives people the right to know everything that a Website knows about them.