Interest-Based Advertising – Getting a Whole Lot of Love (and Trust)

November 18, 2013

The DAA program offers the types of privacy protections that consumers want -- and having these protections present increases their trust in advertising and brands..

Two weeks ago, the Digital Advertising Alliance announced the results of a Zogby consumer research effort it commissioned which provided an opportunity to take the temperature regarding U.S. consumer attitudes about their Internet experiences, and their understanding of how advertising (and interest-based advertising) helps to finance the quantity, quality and diversity of content they experience there.

More than half of all Americans polled (51.3 percent) said they’d be more likely to click on an online ad that included an icon – like the Advertising Option icon – that allowed them to opt out of ad-related information collection.

Additionally, more than 73 percent of users polled said they’d feel more comfortable with interest-based ads if they knew they had access to the protections that the DAA currently provides (opt out, limitations on data collection, third-party enforcement), according to the survey, which polled 1,004 U.S. adults.

These are indeed confirming statistics – demonstrating consumers’ pragmatism toward advertising and the Internet.  Such findings are not Zogby’s alone.

Recently, DAA Partner Evidon’s research points to a similar general trend: when consumers are empowered with transparency and control, 48 percent are more likely to purchase from a brand.

Earlier this Fall, DAA partner TRUSTe announced new findings from its study of consumers regarding mobile marketing and privacy, which is particularly timely given DAA’s announcement this summer regarding “mobile guidance” for complying with DAA’s self-regulatory Principles. Mobile privacy is a top consumer concern, and we have work to do to increase consumers’ comfort levels with information data collection and use on mobile platforms (which is the rationale of our guidance), but again there is pragmatism here: Mobile users are checking for privacy policies and trust marks: 40 percent of smartphone users surveyed said they check to make sure whether a mobile app has a privacy policy, and nearly 3 in 10 check to see if the app has a privacy trust mark or seal.

A global study on trust in advertising from Nielsen also indicates growing trust. As ClickZ reported:

“The report, namely Trust In Advertising 2013, reveals that consumers globally are increasingly turning to online media for more information about brands. In fact, trust in advertising on branded websites has reached 69 percent in 2013 and is ranked as the second most trusted format. This is a 9 percent jump from its fourth-place ranking in 2007…

 “A look at other online advertising platforms reveals that 48 percent of respondents trust ads in search engine results, online video and social networks. Additionally, more than four in 10 (42 percent) trust online banner ads, up from 26 percent in 2007. This is good news for advertisers, who spent 26 percent more on this form of advertising in the first quarter of this year.

“Lastly, 45 percent of respondents have more confidence in display ads on mobile devices, compared to 37 percent who trust text ads.”

And finally, another study from the University of Missouri Media Law & Resource Center titled “Consumer Attitudes Toward Relevant Online Behavioral Advertising: Crucial Evidence in the Data Privacy Debates,” also underscores the practical, pragmatic effects of consumer behavior and attitudes. In the study, which presented respondents with real-life scenarios in which they receive interest-based advertising based on their Web surfing preferences, more than half (53 percent) expressed a desire for relevant ads, and a massive majority (83 percent) expressed a desire for relevant discounts.

Collectively, these findings do not diminish the importance of advancing consumer privacy regimes. I believe they bolster how vital self-regulation – and DAA Principles – is in preserving relevant interactions consumers crave, online innovations, and the transparency and control (and security and accountability) that make interest-based advertising happen.

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