Several weeks ago, a study came out, followed by a flurry of articles in the trades, talking about consumer resistance to online behavioral targeting. Sixty percent of adults surveyed by researchers at the Universities of California and Pennsylvania said they don't want to be shown ads based on their interests.
That number climbed to nearly 80 percent when the researchers explained how ads are targeted, ie., using information garnered from our actions online. An invasion of privacy, most felt once they learned about behavioral marketing.
Yet advertising and online marketing experts say behavioral marketing will become more commonly used, as marketers with tight budgets try ever harder to rifle-target their ads to hit the most likely prospects.Some consumer groups have been pressuring Congress to pass legislation that limits online tracking and especially behavioral marketing. Right now there are no laws preventing the sale of online data.
At the same time, other reports show consumers prefer to see ads online that are targeted to their interests.
Can we have it both ways?
Possibly we can, if consumers can be given an easy way to opt out from having their online actions tracked and then used for behavioral targeting. It could be like the no-call option to prevent unwanted telemarketing calls.
Certainly there will be lots more discussion on this subject, probably after some major abuse of online data gets exposed. It's bound to happen eventually.