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Dave Deasy – VP Marketing | TRUSTe

As companies and social networks come under fire for increasing and often unwelcome online tracking, TRUSTe examines consumer’s opinions about online behavioral advertising (OBA) and who they consider responsible for their online privacy.

UK Findings

UK Findings

US Findings

US Findings

TRUSTe’s 2013 Consumer Data Privacy Study: Advertising Edition offers detailed insight into current consumer opinion, business implications and market trends. Conducted by Harris Interactive among Internet users in the US and UK the survey is part of an established research series and a long-term commitment to market education by TRUSTe.

Although privacy concerns remain high, TRUSTe’s 2013 survey shows that increased transparency and privacy controls engender more positive feelings about OBA. In addition, consumers want businesses to be clear and forthright about data usage and to give them the ability to make their own privacy choices. Only by doing so can businesses expect to create a strong and lasting foundation to support new technology innovations, such as online tracking.

High Consumer Privacy Concerns Can Impact the Bottom Line
Despite the positive news for businesses, there’s still significant work that’s needed to boost consumer confidence and avoid losing business.

While 69% of US Internet users and 65% of UK Internet users understand the value tradeoff of online ads in terms of free content, only 26% of US consumers and 24% of UK consumers are willing to let advertisers use online browsing to show them targeted ads for free content and services.

Privacy Protections – Who’s Accountable?
81% of US users still hold themselves most responsible for their privacy, but they also hold website owners/publishers (76%), social networks (73%), browsers (72%) and advertisers/ad networks (65%) highly responsible.

There is a significant gap between who users hold accountable for privacy protection and who they trust. UK Internet users hold website owners and publishers (77%) as well as social networks (74%) most responsible for protecting their privacy. However these organizations have failed to win consumer trust. UK Internet users trust themselves most (43% down from 60% in 2012), Government (15% up from 11% in 2012) and self-regulatory organizations (8%) to protect their privacy.

Evolving Consumer Attitudes About Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA)
Compared with 2011 and 2012, a growing number of consumers not only feel more positive toward OBA when they are given the choice and ability to opt out but also are more willing to click on an advertisement.

62% of US consumers and 53% of UK consumers would be inclined to do more business with a company that gives the option to opt out of OBA. 53% of US consumers and 49% of UK consumers are more willing to click on an ad that gives them the option to opt out.

Awareness and understanding of the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) AdChoices icon have also increased, contributing to more positive perceptions about OBA. When a banner ad uses the AdChoices icon, 40% of US Internet users are more positive about OBA and 44% are more positive about the business running the ad.

The survey was conducted in the UK, just prior to the launch of a pan-European campaign to raise consumer awareness of the OBA Icon. The findings show that familiarity with the EU Self-Regulatory Programme on OBA and the OBA Icon is growing (22% up from 13% in 2012) and nearly a third of consumers (30%) have now clicked on the OBA Icon in an ad.

Learn More at the Powering Trust Roadshow
The release of TRUSTe’s study coincides with the start of the “Powering Trust” Roadshow, addressing the biggest privacy challenges in online advertising and with events in San Francisco, New York and London. Speaking at the first launch event, Chris Babel, CEO for TRUSTe said:

“As demonstrated time and time again through numerous privacy firestorms, online companies that don’t clearly explain what’s happening with customer data or fully inform users of their choices contribute to a climate of fear and distrust. As our research shows, we think that by listening and responding to what users want, we can eliminate that fear and increase trust in the ever growing data economy.”

Full details of TRUSTe’s US findings can be found here and UK findings here.