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Collecting and analyzing information can help publishers and advertisers better understand and serve their customers. However, consumers are increasingly worried about online behavioral tracking and their privacy according to a new Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Truste, a provider of services that help organizations manage customer privacy. The survey found that the vast majority of consumers (94 percent) consider online privacy important and think about it often. It also found that 60 percent of customers are more concerned about privacy today than they were a year ago.
Of significant concern with regards to privacy is online behavioral advertising (OBA). This is an area in which consumer awareness is the rise, climbing to 83 percent from 70 percent a year ago. This may be because of the increasing number of well-publicized privacy breaches and FCC suits, with the most recent being Google’s $22.5 million fine for secretly tracking millions of Safari browser users.
OBA has been shown to be more than twice as effective at converting website visitors into actual buyers (6.8 percent conversion vs. 2.8 percent for run-of-network ads), according to 2010 research by The Network Advertising Initiative (NAI). Thus, addressing customer concerns about behavioral tracking may be well worth the effort.
Chief among these concerns is that consumers believe that personally identifiable information is obtained through behavioral tracking (over half of those surveyed believe this to be the case). However the Truste survey found that customer favorability increases substantially when customers receive assurance that any personally identifiable information is not collected and used (14 percent versus 2 percent without such assurance).
Truste’s research suggests that, given the risk in customer confidence privacy breaches can create, it is helpful to provide transparency and control for ad viewers. While only a slight majority of customers say they would be more inclined to click on an advertisement that provides the option of opting out of behavioral tracking (51 percent versus 49 percent), 61 percent of those surveyed say they would be more inclined to do business with an advertiser or publisher who gives the option of opting out of online behavioral tracking.
*Editor's Note: This story originally appears on AD sister site, minonline.com.
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