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In response to consumer concerns about ads based on online activity, the advertising industry introduced the AdChoices button to provide targeting transparency and allow users to opt out of tracking options. But has it worked? Based on recent research, awareness has a long way to go before consumers know their options—and feel more positive about targeted ads.
When March 2015 polling conducted by ORC International for Kelly Scott Madison (KSM) asked US internet users about their awareness of Your AdChoices—a campaign coinciding with the 2012 launch of the AdChoices logo to inform consumers about behavioral advertising and their opt-out options—74% were not familiar with the campaign.
Even when consumers were familiar with the AdChoice logo, they didn’t necessarily know what it meant. Just over one-third said the icon was served to them due to specific browsing—the correct meaning. Other interpretations included thinking that the ad was approved by the national advertising ratings commission or that a web browser was compatible with the specific ad. About one-quarter of those who had seen an AdChoice logo admitted to not knowing what it meant.
Just 33% of respondents had taken the next step and clicked on an AdChoices icon—and 60% of this group had opted out of this type of behavioral advertising.
December 2014 research conducted by Ipsos for TRUSTe found promising results. While a still-small 37% of US internet users were aware of the AdChoices icon, this was up from 21% the previous year. The study also stressed the importance of awareness in gaining trust, as 33% of respondents said the information available when clicking on the logo would make them feel more positive about targeted ads.
In order to boost internet users’ level of comfort with and trust in personalized ads, the industry must continue to increase transparency and inform consumers of their control options.
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