Consumers crave targeted ads but privacy’s still crucial

online shoppingMarketers are facing yet another privacy versus targeting conundrum with a new study claiming that while consumers want contextually relevant ads more than ever, many remain cautious about handing over their information.

According to Integral Ad Science’s Consumer Data Privacy Report, data privacy remains a key concern for the nearly all (94%) UK consumers, which is perhaps unsurprising given the constant data breach headlines.

Alongside this, while a third (33%) remain unaware of data privacy regulations, such as GDPR, nearly nine in ten (87%) consumers now understand their browsing data will be used for advertising purposes.

However, it seems that while privacy campaigners insist current real-time bidding and online behavioural targeting methods breach GDPR, behavioural targeting is still consumers’ favoured method, with the top preference being ads targeted on purchase history (35%) or browsing history (34%).

A close second is targeted ads that are contextually relevant to the site a consumer is browsing, stated by a third (33%), while targeting based on demographic data, such as life stage (19%) or job (15%), was the least preferred method.

Consumers are also clear about which platforms they are happy to share their personal data with for a more relevant ad experience.

Almost three-fifths (56%) are comfortable sharing information with e-commerce sites, and more than two-fifths (43%) are happy for social media sites to have access to this information. While for audio streaming and gaming – two platforms that have seen a boom in consumer usage during lockdown – just under a third of consumers are willing to share personal information (30% and 28% respectively).

When it comes to keeping data online secure, half (50%) of UK consumers believe the this is their own responsibility and a further two-thirds (67%) are confident in their own abilities to ensure this happens. Clearing browser history (62%) and deleting browser cookies (58%) are the most common ways that consumers protect their data.

Meanwhile, websites and apps are listed as the second most responsible (39%) for the security of consumer data, with consumers generally not looking to the Government to keep their personal data safe (11%).

However, more than half (57%) hold sites accountable for ad experiences, with three-fifths (61%) preferring to withhold data instead of receiving tailored communications.

IAS managing director for EMEA Nick Morley said: “As the use of third-party cookies diminishes, brands looking to reach consumers will need to employ new audience targeting tactics. By considering the environment – the topics and sentiments on a page – brands can adjust to the evolving landscape, engaging with consumers in appropriate environments.

“Targeting audiences based on context is not only an innovative solution to reach people while complying with privacy regulations – it’s actually what consumers prefer.”

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