September 30, 2009

Turow’s Latest on Advertising [9:12 am]

This report, SSRN-Americans Reject Tailored Advertising and Three Activities that Enable It by Joseph Turow, Jennifer King, Chris Hoofnagle, Amy Bleakley, Michael Hennessy gets some ink in today’s New York Times: Two-Thirds of Americans Object to Online Tracking. It makes some surprising claims, actually. After all, while folks may not like tailored ads, they really seem to hate “spam.” The report is probably going to require some more careful reading, rather than relying upon the NYTimes article.

The respondents’ aversion to tailored ads increased once they learned about targeting methods. In addition to the original 66 percent that said tailored ads were “not O.K.,” an additional 7 percent said such ads were not O.K. when they were tracked on the site. An additional 18 percent said it was not O.K. when they were tracked via other Web sites, and an additional 20 percent said it was not O.K. when they were tracked offline.

The survey company also asked about customized discounts and customized news. Fifty-one percent of respondents said that tailored discounts were O.K., and 58 percent said that customized news was fine.

On the advertising question, there was not a big difference between age groups. Marketers often use teenagers’ behavior on Facebook as anecdotal evidence that they do not mind handing over information. But 55 percent of respondents from 18 to 24 objected to tailored advertising.

“We sometimes think that the younger adults in the United States don’t care about this stuff, and I would suggest that’s an exaggeration,” said Joseph Turow, lead author of the study and a professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. [...]

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