By Daniel Hunter
The vast majority of UK consumers want some aspect of control or more information about how companies use consumer information to serve online advertising. However, the exact same number of people (81%) also agreed the internet is powerful because it provides unrestricted access to information.
The findings come from a report being published by the IAB UK and ValueClick, based on 2,000 interviews carried out by Kantar Media - 650 face-to-face and 1,350 online.
The report reveals that although six in 10 UK consumers (62%) are concerned about online privacy, two-thirds (67%) are confident they know how to protect their privacy online. For example, half said they had deleted cookies from their computers in the last six months while one in five deletes cookies every week. Men (57%) are more likely to delete cookies than women (43%). One in five (19%) consumers don’t take any steps to manage their privacy online.
However, the report reveals confusion amongst consumers about cookies; of the 64% of people who claimed to know what a cookie is, only 57% actually chose the correct definition when given a range of options. In effect, this means that four in 10 (39%) people who deleted cookies in the last six months did so without correctly knowing what cookies are and what they’re used for.
Advertising control and benefits
Nearly half (45%) of UK consumers would like to control the type of advertising they see online and 40% want easy access to the information being shared about them. Just over one third (36%) wanted information about who was showing them a particular ad.
However, the majority of UK consumers do recognise the benefits advertising brings; 61% expect a large portion of the internet would “disappear” without advertising, while 52% are happy to see online advertising because it supports online services and content at little or no cost. Only one in 10 people would be willing to pay for websites and online services they currently use for free if those services removed advertising.
The majority of people are in favour of personalised or more relevant advertising online - 55% said they would rather see online advertising relevant to their interests. Six in 10 (59%) would rather see a lower number of relevant ads online than a higher number of less relevant ones.
Importance of the internet in modern society
The report also reveals how important consumers believe the internet is in modern society. For example, 61% said they can live more cheaply because of the internet and a staggering 42% would feel like a second class citizen without internet access. Half of consumers feel people have more political power because of it and 46% thought access to the internet should be a fundamental human right. People clearly value the unrestricted access to information the internet offers, with 81% agreeing this was what made the web powerful.
“This research shows the balance that the industry needs to strike: providing clear and transparent information and control to empower consumers and help them safeguard their privacy, whilst enabling relevant advertising to help fund the quality content and services that they demand," Nick Stringer, director of regulatory affairs at the IAB UK, said.
"Businesses across Europe are rolling out a new icon in online ads to enable this. Backed by a campaign to explain how online advertising works and what the icon means, this study will help inform our communication.”
Carl White, CEO ValueClick Europe, comments: “Businesses and brands must begin to engage consumers in an open and transparent dialogue about how and why they see advertising online. This study shows that people are more receptive and open-minded about online advertising than is often reported, but they are also wary and understandably confused about the mechanics of digital marketing and privacy. It is up to us as an industry to communicate how online advertising works and the benefits it delivers more effectively.”
- Over half (52%) of UK consumers are happy to see online advertising because it supports online services and content at little or no cost
- 55% said they would rather see online advertising relevant to their interests;
- 59% would rather see a lower number of relevant ads online than a higher number of less relevant ones
- Nearly half (45%) would like to control the type of advertising they see online
- Half of UK consumers have deleted cookies from their computers in the last six months while one in five deletes cookies every week
- Six in 10 people said they can live more cheaply because of the internet
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