Gallup: Two-thirds of consumers would back 'Do-Not-Track'

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More than two-thirds of consumers oppose online behavioral tracking and targeted advertising based on it, according to a Gallup/USAToday poll conducted earlier this month. Consumers were surveyed about the subject days after the Federal Trade Commission recommended a “Do-Not-Track” policy that would allow Web browsers to opt out of all online tracking by third-parties.

Gallup found that 67% of consumers said advertisers should not be allowed to present ads based on their Internet use, while only 30% said marketers should be allowed to do so. Thirty-five percent said tracking by marketers is justified because it allows free access to websites, and 61% said free access was not worth the loss of privacy.

Ninety percent say they do not pay much attention to online ads, while 61% said they have noticed targeted ads based on websites they have previously visited.

Taking issue with the tone of the questions in the survey, Jerry Cerasale, SVP of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association, said the results pose a challenge for marketers. They need to educate consumers about what behavioral targeting is, and its value, he said.

“The question starts with Do-Not-Track…The request itself gives a negative connotation,” he said. “We look at it as an educational challenge."

The poll also found that consumers are willing to allow some tracking, as long as it is their choice. Although 37% of adults would allow no tracking at all, 47% would allow tracking from advertisers they choose. The segments of consumers more amenable to opt-in tracking are younger and wealthier, according to the poll. More than half (57%) of adults ages 18 to 34 would allow tracking by selected advertisers, while 53% of those with annual incomes of $30,000 to $74,999 would do so.

Cerasale said the DMA has worked with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Better Business Bureau to create an opt-out service. It allows the consumer to stop the collection of behavioral data and the display of targeted advertising, he said.

Gallup interviewed 1,019 US adults from December 10 to 12 for the survey.

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