March 28, 2008 09:00 ET
TRUSTe Report Reveals Consumer Awareness and Attitudes About Behavioral Targeting
Consumers Indicate a High Level of Awareness That Tracking and Targeting Occur
SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - March 28, 2008) - Consumer privacy organization TRUSTe
announced today the results of a study conducted by global market insight
and information group TNS regarding American Internet users' knowledge,
attitudes and concerns about behavioral targeting and its implications on
their online privacy. Overall results indicate a high level of awareness
that internet activities are being tracked for purposes of targeting
advertising, and a high level of concern associated with that tracking,
even when it isn't associated with personally identifiable information.
Behavioral targeting has become a hot button issue recently, as industry
enthusiasm for delivering customized experiences and improved marketing
metrics runs up against consumer privacy concerns and calls for greater
transparency around emerging tracking and targeting techniques. Based on
the results of the survey, lack of transparency may factor into privacy
concerns. 71 percent of online consumers are aware that their browsing
information may be collected by a third party for advertising purposes, but
only 40 percent are familiar with the term "behavioral targeting." 57
percent of respondents say they are not comfortable with advertisers using
that browsing history to serve relevant ads, even when that information
cannot be tied to their names or any other personal information.
An overwhelming majority (91 percent) of respondents expressed willingness
to take necessary steps to assure increased privacy online when presented
with the tools to control their internet tracking and advertising
experience, suggesting a need for added education, transparency and choices
for behavioral targeting. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) would choose to
see online ads only from online stores and brands that they know and trust
and 44 percent of respondents would click buttons or icons to make that
To the contrary, a similar proportion of consumers (42 percent) say they
would sign up for an online registry to ensure that advertisers are not
able to track browsing behaviors, even if it meant that they would receive
more ads that are less relevant to their interests. This division poses a
serious dilemma for BT practitioners and industry privacy advocates,
because consumers say they want more relevant advertising, but don't want
to be tracked in order to get it.
"Education once again appears to be the key to finding a constructive
balance between behavioral targeting and consumer privacy, because no
matter how much we assure anonymity, there is still significant discomfort
with the idea of tracking," said Fran Maier, executive director of TRUSTe.
"We have a solid indication that consumers want us to find a way to get
them the advertising that is relevant to them. In order to do this,
behavioral targeting is one of the most promising methods, but at the very
least, it has to be made more transparent, provide choices, and deliver
For the TRUSTe behavioral tracking study, TNS conducted an online survey
among a randomly selected sample of American adults whose households belong
to TNS's online consumer panel. In total, 1,015 interviews were completed
between February 1 and 5, 2008. The data were weighted by region, market
size, age, gender and household size, composition and income, to reflect
the demographic composition of the online adult population in the
The full research results are available to TRUSTe sealholders at no charge.
Media can obtain a complete copy of the study by contacting Morgan McDowell
of blast! PR.
TRUSTe helps consumers and businesses identify trustworthy online
organizations through its Web Privacy Seal, Email Privacy Seal and Trusted
Download Programs. Having celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2007, TRUSTe
certifies more than 2,400 Web sites, including the major internet portals
and leading brands such as AOL, eBay, IBM, Intuit, Microsoft and Oracle.
TRUSTe resolves thousands of individual privacy disputes every year. To
learn more about internet privacy visit www.truste.org.
TNS is a global market information and insight group. Its strategic goal is
to be recognized as the global leader in delivering value-added information
and insights that help its clients make more effective business decisions.
TNS delivers innovative thinking and excellent service across a network of
80 countries. Working in partnership with clients, TNS provides
high-quality information, analysis and insight that improve understanding
of consumer behavior. TNS is the world's leading provider of customized
services, combining sector knowledge with expertise in the areas of Product
Development & Innovation, Brand & Communications, Stakeholder Management,
Retail & Shopper and Customer Intelligence. TNS is a major supplier of
consumer panel, media intelligence and audience measurement services.
TNS is the sixth sense of business™. www.tnsglobal.com