As any business development manager can tell you, there’s a lot of unease out there about the tracking that ad agencies use to drive online advertising sales. Or is there? A new poll conducted by Zogby Analytics for the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) suggests that, once people know how tracking works, they’re altogether less bothered by it and actively prefer behaviorally targeted ads.
Targeted ads don’t worry people
Only 4 per cent of the 1,000 adult respondents surveyed said they were concerned about behaviorally targeted advertising. In fact, business development managers might want to note that most people were considerably more worried about cyber-crime. 12 per cent were most worried about government surveillance, 33 per cent worried about viruses and malware and, for 39 per cent, identity theft came top of the tree.
As DAA Managing Director Lou Mastria put it:
“Some other studies have used emotional words. If it uses the word ‘tracking’ and doesn’t define what it is, it can mean a lot of things. For the advertising industry, we’ve said what it means and that the results of the poll bear this out.”
70 per cent of respondents preferred at least some ads to be targeted toward their specific interests, while 40 per cent said they’d prefer all ads to be behaviorally targeted. Most respondents appreciated that advertising keeps the internet free of charge: 75 per cent preferred an ad-supported internet model.
But if this is encouraging data for business development managers, a note of skepticism was also sounded: after analyzing the poll, Professor Joseph Turow of the Annenberg School of Communications said that the survey had been worded to get the answers the DAA wanted. When people are given tick box options in reply to the question “What is your biggest concern about the internet?”, it’s not surprising only 4 per cent responded “behaviorally targeted advertising,” Turow argues, because they don’t know what it is.
But then, isn’t asking loaded questions a feature of those other polls yielding opposite results? As Sen. Jay Rockefellers (D‑W.Va.), a DAA skeptic, prepares to discuss the industry’s ad choice self-regulatory system in Congress, he should take note of one finding in the latest poll: 62 per cent don’t trust the Government to regulate the delivery of advertising on the internet.