Privacy Poll: Tough Times Ahead for Marketers

Several recent developments have created a kind of perfect storm for privacy in 2011. Last month’s FTC privacy report, the Obama Administration’s plans for a Privacy Czar, do not track browser tools from Microsoft and Mozilla and now anti-tracking consumer survey data will make for tough times for marketers in the year ahead.

Here’s what the data from a recent Gallup/USAToday poll show:

  • A majority of US online consumers know they’re being tracked and targeted
  • The overwhelming majority don’t pay attention to online ads (much)
  • A large majority don’t think it’s justified or should be allowed
  • They might be open to some targeting under “opt-in” scenarios

These and other consumer data will be used to advocate and advance privacy initiatives that will be floated next year. It’s interesting to note (middle chart) that a majority of survey respondents said tracking wasn’t justified even though it was part of an ad effort to keep sites free. Users also don’t appear to want more relevant ads either, although I’ve seen conflicting data on this point.

In my view it’s unlikely that any version of IAB self-regulation (unless it’s very strict) will mollify regulators and people in Congress. But the real battle will come down to online disclosures: what, when and how explicit?  Any way you slice it the targeting honeymoon is over folks.

DSPs/ad networks: you may be totally screwed. And it’s worth noting that search marketing is largely spared under most of the regulatory scenarios ahead.

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