NEWS28 October 2009

Behavioural targeting fears ‘unfounded', says IAB

Privacy Technology UK

UK— Most internet users are unaware of online behavioural advertising, but most are also comfortable with it once they know how it works, according to a new survey.

The online survey of more than 1,000 internet users was conducted for the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and business law firm Olswang by research agency Basis. It found that 72% of respondents were unaware of online behavioural advertising, and 81% did not realise they could opt out of it.

However, 74% said they were comfortable with behavioural advertising, once it had been explained to them what information is actually collected, how it is used, and their right to opt out.

Qualitative data gathered as part of the survey revealed that the reasons for people’s suspicion of behavioural advertising included that it feels invasive, that people are concened that personal data will be stored permanently without their knowledge, and that other companies would have access to their personal data.

The IAB, which published a set of self-regulatory Good Practice Principles for behavioural advertising in March, said such fears were “unfounded”. The bureau recently launched a website,, where web users can find out more about behavioural targeting, and opt out of having their activities tracked by the companies that have signed up to the IAB’s principles.

The IAB’s head of regulatory affairs, Nick Stringer (pictured), said: “This research highlights the need for further education and supports our approach in providing greater reassurance about behavioural advertising. We know that once internet users are presented with all the facts the appeal of targeting advertising increases, and the IAB and its members are dedicated to making this happen.”

Marc Dautlich, a technology partner at Olswang, said the results show that consumers “are willing to engage, but on their terms”.