Consumer Attitudes on Privacy and Behavioral Marketing

Joseph Turow, Chris Hoofnagle, Jennifer King, Amy Bleakley, and Michael Hennessy have just issued a very interesting consumer survey on privacy and behavioral marketing entitled, Americans Reject Tailored Advertising and Three Activities that Enable It.

Some of the survey’s findings:

* Even when they are told that the act of following them on websites will take place anonymously, Americans’ aversion to it remains: 68% “definitely” would not allow it, and 19% would “probably” not allow it. (p. 2)

* 69% of American adults feel there should be a law that gives people the right to know everything that a website knows about them. (p. 2)

* 92% agree there should be a law that requires “websites and advertising companies to delete all stored information about an individual, if requested to do so.” (p. 2)

* Signaling frustration over privacy issues, Americans are inclined toward strict punishment of information offenders. 70% suggest that a company should be fined more than the maximum amount suggested ($2,500) “if a company purchases or uses someone’s information illegally.” (p. 3)

* Our survey did find that younger American adults are less likely to say no to tailored advertising than are older ones. Still, more than half (55%) of 18- 24 year-olds do not want tailored advertising. And contrary to consistent assertions of marketers, young adults have as strong an aversion to being followed across websites and offline (for example, in stores) as do older adults. 86% of young adults say they don’t want tailored advertising if it is the result of following their behavior on websites other than one they are visiting, and 90% of them reject it if it is the result of following what they do offline. (p. 2)

These are just a few of the many findings in this fascinating survey.  The New York Times has coverage of the survey here.

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