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Mar 31, 2008

NEWS: Bad News For Google, Yahoo: Surfers Know They're Being Tracked, And Hate It

Bad News For Google, Yahoo: Surfers Know They're Being Tracked, And Hate It


penguin.jpgWeb surfers know full well their online tracks are being followed for advertising purposes, and they don't like it, says TNS Global.

OK, we'll buy that. Our understanding of Web privacy issues is that most surfers feel vaguely uneasy about tracking, cookies, etc -- but not enough to do anything about it.

But according to TNS, Web users are acutely aware of that's going, and are actively trying to evade prying marketers' eyes. The survey says 57% of respondents said they're uncomfortable with advertisers using their browsing history to serve ads. They're supposedly quite up to date on ad jargon -- 40% of them say they're familiar with the industry jargon term "behavioral targeting". And a literally astonishing 54% said they try to foil tracking by deleting their cookies at least twice a month.

If any of this is even close to true, it bodes ill for Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO), Microsoft (MSFT) and the rest of the online ad business in the coming public policy fight over data collection. AOL has started its own series of online PSA's complete with a cute cartoon "Mr. Penguin" to explain "tracking" to consumers. The next major fight is over a bill winding its way through the New York state legislature that would require online advertisers to allow consumers to opt out of tracking.

Bad as the TNS results are for online marketers, they're actually an improvement over past studies. A recent poll in California found 85% believed sites shouldn't be allowed to track their behavior on the Web.

Consumers Well Aware of Behavioral Tracking, Targeting - Don’t Like It Much

Consumers say they want relevant advertising but don’t want to be tracked in order to get it: 57% say they are not comfortable with behavioral tracking even if it’s done anonymously, according toa TRUSTe study conducted by TNS.


Marketers use behavioral targeting to deliver a more customized experience (i.e., relevant ads) and to improve their marketing metrics, but they run up against consumer privacy concerns and calls for greater transparency around techniques.

NEWS: Cookie Deletion Inflates User Metrics
Contextual, Behavioral, and AI Targeting

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