Half of Brits ‘would opt-out of behavioural targeting’
- Apr 06, 2010
Behavioural targeting is still viewed with suspicion and regarded as irrelevant by the majority of UK consumers, with 45% of consumers claiming never to have witnessed a relevant behavioural advertisement, according to a new survey.
Unwanted and largely irrelevant
The 2010 Online Advertising Report from Addvantage Media found that, if given the option to unsubscribe from adverts based on behavioural targeting, 52 per cent of consumers claim they would be likely or very likely (19% likely, 33% very likely) to do so.
Perhaps surprisingly, this attitude does not vary greatly among different age groups with younger, typically more online savvy, consumers exhibiting similar attitudes to so-called ‘silver surfers’: (53% of 18-24 year olds, 52% of 25-34 year olds, 50% of 35 to 44 year olds, 54% of 45 to 54 year olds).
The data also reveals that consumer antipathy to behavioural targeting may be tied to a wide held perception that it does not lead to more relevant advertising. Nearly one in two consumers (45%) said that they had never witnessed a relevant ad based on their online behaviour while just three in ten (31%) of UK claimed that they had knowingly experienced a relevant advert based on their online behaviour.
Unlike consumers’ attitudes to a potential opt-out option, however, experiences of relevance do vary according to age. A greater proportion of younger consumers claim to have experienced a relevant advert (51% of 18-24 year olds 44% of 25-34 year olds) but even among these age groups nearly a third (31%) of 18-24 year olds and nearly four in ten (38%) still claim never to have witnessed a relevant behavioural advert.
Edward Tijdink, Managing Partner at Addvantage Media commented, “It’s clear that consumers are still inherently suspicious of the notion of behavioural targeting and the research would seem to suggest that, on top of privacy concerns, this may be because it is seen to be irrelevant in the large majority of cases. Too many brands seem to be approaching behavioural targeting as the solution to all their online advertising problems but the reality is, though in many cases behavioural targeting can be very engaging, there is no one-size-fits all approach.”
“Rather than trying to second-guess a consumer’s interests from their behaviour, often the best responses can be gained from matching adverts to specific, special-interest content. If consumers trust and are engaged by the content on vertical sites that interests them, they are usually similarly engaged and trusting of intelligently matched adverts on those sites. The danger of behavioural targeting when it goes wrong is that seemingly irrelevant adverts, based on a miscalculated assessment of consumers’ online preferences, can—far from being engaging—seem intrusive and have be a turn-off.”
Advertising malpractice will hit brands’ bottom line
The report also indicates that consumers would respond with their wallets to any brand that was associated with dubious online advertising practices. 37 per cent of UK adults claimed that if they had discovered that an online advert had automatically installed tracking malware or corrupt ‘cookie stuffing’ software on their PCs, they would be likely or very likely to make fewer purchases from that brand. This figure rises notably to 44 per cent among 18-24 year olds and 41 per cent among 25-34 year olds suggesting that while these age groups may be the most responsive to targeting, they are also the least tolerant of perceived malpractice.
Tijdink continued: “As the pressure to deliver greater traffic volumes has built and budgets have shrunk, the temptation for agencies to bend or break the rules of attribution – the question of whose campaign is credited with customer acquisitions or sales – through dubious technology has also increased. If these practices were to happen and be exposed, however, not only would it be a major scandal and PR disaster for the industry, but as the research suggests, any brand concerned would feel a significant commercial impact.”
“It is essential that the industry self-regulates to ensure high standards. If we were to allow its name to become associated with spyware, malware, misplacement and fraudulent traffic, its future will be threatened. The most effective advertising does not primarily serve the advertiser or network or agency, it serves the consumer first – if it does that well everything else will follow.”
The 2010 Online Advertising Report was commissioned by Addvantage Media and conducted by YouGov, polling a nationally representative sample of 2,232 GB adults aged 18+ in October 2009.