2 in 3 Online Americans Oppose Ad Tracking

December 21, 2010

gallup-online-ad-tracking-dec-2010.JPGTwo in three (67%) online US adults do not believe advertisers should be allowed to match ads to their specific interests based on websites they have visited, according to a recent Gallup poll. Almost the same percentage (61%) says these methods are not justified even if they help keep the internet free, due to the invasion of privacy.

Older, Wealthier Slightly More Open to Tracking

gallup-online-tracking-views-dec-2010.JPGWhile the percentages are still well below 50%, demographic analysis of survey results shows that younger and wealthier Americans are a little more receptive to online ad tracking than their elder and less wealthy peers.

For example, 34% of 18-to-34-year-old internet users believe advertisers should be allowed to match ads to their specific interests based on websites they have visited, and 40% say the invasion of privacy is worth it in exchange for free internet access. In contrast, internet users 55 and older had respective 26% and 31% response rates to these two questions.

Similarly, 35% of internet users earning $75,000 or more annually believe online ad tracking should be allowed, and 40% believe free internet access justifies any invasion of privacy. These response rates respectively drop to 24% and 27% among internet users earning less than $30,000 annually.

Close to Half Support Selective Tracking

gallup-online-tracking-selective-dec-2010.JPGClose to half (47%) of all respondents support having advertisers they choose track their online behavior for ad targeting, while 37% support having no tracking by any advertisers and 14% support the current system of all online advertisers being allowed to track behavior and target ads.

Demographically, answers to this question skew a little differently than the previous question. Fifty-seven percent of younger internet users (18 to 34) support selective tracking, compared to only 37% of older internet users (55-plus), who also oppose any tracking by the highest percentage (45%).

However, middle-class respondents earning $30,000 to $74,999 support selective tracking at the highest percentage (49%) of any economic bracket. Those earning less than $30,000 have the highest rate of opposing all tracking (47%).

6 in 10 Notice Online Ad Tracking

gallup-online-tracking-awareness-dec-2010.JPGSix in 10 (61%) adult US internet users notice ads are based on visited websites, although only 10% pay a great or fair amount of attention to them. The youngest (69%) and wealthiest (66%) internet users are most likely to notice online ad targeting. There is no significant demographic differential in terms of paying attention to online ads.

US Viewers See 1.3T Display Ads

Data from the comScore Ad Metrix online advertising intelligence service indicates that 1.28 trillion online display ads were delivered to US internet users during Q3 2010, marking a 22% increase from 1.05 trillion online display ads during Q3 2009.

The average US internet user was delivered more than 6,000 display ads during the course of the quarter, and 109 different advertisers delivered at least 1 billion display ad impressions during the quarter, up from 76 during Q3 2009.

comScore credits several factors with driving online display ad growth, including the ability to buy specific audiences enabling a greater number of display ads to be delivered on target, display formats improving at a rapid rate, and improving quality of creative. comScore predicts continued growth of online display ads in quarters to come.

About the Data: Results for this USA Today/Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 10-12, 2010, with a random sample of 1,019 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

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