68% of US Smartphone Users Concerned About Having Their Activity Tracked for Use in Targeted Ads

68% of US Smartphone Users Concerned About Having Their Activity Tracked for Use in Targeted Ads


Awareness of DAA AdChoices Icon for Control Over Targeted Ads Jumps to 37%

San Francisco, February 20, 2015 – According to new findings in an online study conducted by Ipsos on behalf of TRUSTe, 68% of US smartphone users are concerned about having their activity tracked to serve them targeted ads, suggesting that most smartphone users are uncomfortable with the idea of online behavioral advertising (OBA). However, research also showed that awareness of the AdChoices icon, part of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) Self-Regulatory Program for OBA jumped to 37% – a significant increase from 21% the previous year. This program provides users with more control over their online ad experience with the option to opt-out of personal targeting.

As consumers become more aware of how they can control the types of ads they see, they are more likely to feel positive about online behavioral advertising in general. One in three (33%) said that the information available on AdChoices, along with the option of opting out of OBA would make them feel more positive about the concept of targeted ads.

These findings in addition to those quoted from the 2015 TRUSTe Consumer Privacy Index, published last month are based on data from an online survey conducted by Ipsos, commissioned by TRUSTe, with 1,000 adults aged 18-75 in the US between November 28 and December 5 2014. According to the survey, lack of consumer trust is currently affecting how consumers are using the internet as 77% of US consumers who say they worry about their privacy online moderated their online activity in the previous twelve months due to privacy concerns. With close to 2 in 3 adults (65%) concerned about advertisers and websites tracking their internet browsing activity and using this information to provide targeted adverts, this suggests that tracking activity for targeted ads plays a huge part in contributing to these concerns. Of those who did moderate their activity, 74% did not click on an online ad – the most common action taken due to privacy concerns.

“Our research shows that the majority of Americans are still uneasy about having their online activity tracked for use in targeted ads, mainly because they feel like they have limited control,” said Chris Babel, CEO, TRUSTe. “The good news is that awareness of the AdChoices icon, which gives users more control over their ad experience, has risen substantially and continues to have the potential for positive impact on consumer attitudes. As more and more consumers understand how their information is being tracked and the choices they have to opt-out, the more we’ll start to see consumers embrace the concept of Online Behavioral Advertising and realize the benefits, such as receiving great deals from their favorite online retailers.”

TRUSTed Ads is a comprehensive technology solution that gives consumers more control over their online ad experience by allowing them to opt-out of targeted advertising across mobile, tablet and desktop devices via the DAA’s AdChoices icon. TRUSTed Ads is an easy way for consumers to opt-out of having their activity tracked online from specific networks in the ads ecosystem. They can opt-out of personal targeting on desktop or mobile via the AdChoices Icon within the specific ad, on the website or by using the TRUSTe mobile app.

TRUSTe is teaming up with the Digital Advertising Alliance and the Better Business Bureau for a webinar on March 9th titled “2015 Compliance for Desktop & Mobile Advertising” which will explore TRUSTe’s recent US consumer privacy survey findings, privacy best practices and enforcement of self-regulatory principals for OBA. Register here for the webinar.

About TRUSTe
TRUSTe powers privacy compliance and risk management with comprehensive technology, consulting and certification solutions. We have two decades experience across all industries and a team of more than 150 professionals developing innovative solutions to address global regulatory and data protection requirements.

Research Methodology
The research was conducted by Ipsos using an online survey among a representative quota sample of 1,000 adults aged 18-75 in the US between November 28 and December 5 2014. Among these, 537 were smartphone users and 978 said they ever worry about their privacy online, with 749 of these reporting that they had taken action to moderate their online behavior in the past 12 months. Survey data were weighted by age, gender, region and working status to known population proportions.
Comparison data for the US for the previous three years is drawn from research conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of TRUSTe from December 11-13, 2013 among 2,019 U.S. adults age 18 and older, from January 7-9, 2013 among 2,166 U.S. adults age 18 and older and from January 17-21, 2012 among 2,415 U.S. adults age 18 and older. These surveys can be accessed here and form part of TRUSTe’s ongoing consumer privacy research program.

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