Poll: Americans Want Free Internet Content, Value Interest-Based Advertising

New poll commissioned by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) shows that Americans understand and appreciate the importance of the ad-supported Internet

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 18, 2013 – Americans place great value on the availability of free Internet content, and appreciate Internet advertising that is tailored to their specific interests, a new poll finds. The survey, commissioned by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), measured attitudes regarding online advertising, with a specific focus on interest-based ads.

In addition to strongly supporting Internet advertising in general, poll respondents were highly receptive to the interest-based advertising that lies at the heart of the DAA’s mission. Nearly 70 percent of respondents indicated that they’d like at least some ads tailored directly to their interests, compared to only 16 percent who preferred to only see generic ads for products and services. Zogby Analytics conducted the poll of 1,000 US adults.

“What the poll makes clear is that consumers prefer ads that reflect their particular interests, which is precisely what interest-based advertising was created to provide,” said Lou Mastria, managing director of the DAA, a self-regulatory body that promotes transparency and user choice for interest-based ads. “The poll also demonstrates that Americans’ privacy concerns are rightly focused on real threats like malware and identity theft, and not on an industry that follows rigorous, enforceable guidelines for data collection and use. DAA is proud to operate a choice tool that gives consumers the choice and control they need to feel comfortable and confident with interest-based advertising.”

More than 90 percent of Americans polled said that free content was important to the overall value of the Internet, and more than 60 percent said it was “extremely” important. Similarly, more than 75 percent of poll respondents said they prefer content (like news, blogs and entertainment sites) to remain free and supported by advertising, compared to fewer than 10 percent who said they’d rather pay for ad-free content.

DAA operates a consumer education program and choice tool that allows users to tailor how and whether they receive interest-based advertising. DAA’s ubiquitous AdChoices icon is served over a trillion times per month and simultaneously supports ad-funded content while providing real-time transparency and on-demand choice. The DAA choice tool presents a consistent user experience on any browser and soon the DAA Principles will be extended to the mobile environment. In the past year alone more than five million Americans accessed the choice tool, and more than 14 million visited the DAA’s education site.

Importantly, the DAA program makes publicly accountable those companies who join the program and agree to the responsible data use practices embodied by the DAA Principles. In addition, two independent enforcement mechanisms monitor and respond to compliance concerns for both members and non-members. This effectively educates the interest-based advertising ecosystem that consumers’ demand for relevant ad-supported content and services is appropriately balanced when it is complemented with just-in-time transparency and choice.

While lawmakers, regulators and technologists are considering a range of proposals aimed at limiting – or eliminating – interest-based advertising, the DAA program gives users real transparency and choice today, without harming the economic engine of the free Internet.

“The data reveals an American public that is largely supportive of the advertising-funded Internet, and is leery of efforts to drastically change the way it operates,” Mastria said. “In light of that, it makes sense to focus on transparency and choice solutions that are already working, rather than on new, untested initiatives which obscure choice and may damage the advertising support of the Internet economy.”

Survey results include data showing:

·      92 percent of Americans think free content like news, weather and blogs is important to the overall value of the Internet (64 percent extremely important, 28 percent somewhat important)

·      75 percent prefer ad supported content to paying for ad-free content

·      68 percent prefer to get at least some ads Internet directed at their interests

·      40 percent prefer to get all their ads directed to their interests

·      47 percent would oppose a law that would restrict how data is used for Internet advertising but also potentially reduced free content availability, compared to only 22 percent that support such a law

·      75 percent say they should be able to choose the ads they want to see as opposed to
4 percent who say government should

·      Biggest concerns about the Internet: identity theft (39 percent); viruses and malware
(33 percent); government surveillance (12 percent); cyber bullying and/or stalking (5 percent); behavioral targeting (4 percent)

·      61 percent don’t trust the government to regulate how Internet advertising is delivered

·      41 percent of users think that browser obstacles to displaying advertising will result in less access to free content

The poll, conducted on April 2-3, 2013, surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults and possessed a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.  The full results of the study are posted here:


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