Is There A Downside To Targeted Advertising


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Online ad-blocking tools give users greater control over their online browsing. Ad blockers can be used to protect their privacy online. 63% of users say targeted ads that include personal data are an invasion. Companies that use consumer data in advertising strategies could be subject to severe consequences. 45% of users who use ad-blocking say they will not trust companies that target them with ads.

Users who block ads represent growing frustrations over intrusive advertising. They want more control over the experience of browsing online and will take steps towards eliminating intrusive advertisements, regardless of how they impact businesses.

Mozilla, among others, has made the switch to paid, ad-free models, which offers some relief for businesses that rely on advertising revenue.

However, Ad blocking users are frustrated with advertisements and how their data is used to create targeted ads.

Companies must be aware of how they collect data from users for advertising purposes and adapt their strategies to address the concerns of users about online privacy.

This article will help companies to understand consumer sentiment regarding data privacy and find ways to build trust among an ad-frustrated audience.

Our findings

  • Nearly two-thirds of users of ad-blocking software (63%) feel that targeted ads that include personal data are an invasion of privacy. This is contrary to the view of advertisers who claim that customers’ experience with ad campaigns feels more valuable because of data collection.
  • Nearly half (45%) of people who use ad-blocking software will avoid companies that target them with ads. These companies are more popular with older generations because they are more concerned about online security and data breaches.
  • Nearly half (47%) of Generation Xers surveyed said they would pay for an ad-free online experience. Experts say this generation is tech-savvy, and will not tolerate intrusive advertisements.
  • 72% of baby boomers believe that data collection for advertising purposes violates privacy. Online advertising is more controversial for older internet users who aren’t digital natives.
  • Despite their strong opposition to data collection, only 28% of ad-blocking users intend to download privacy extensions in 2019.

Most Ad Blocker Users Say Targeted Ads Invade Privacy

Internet users are skeptical about online ads that target users based on their browsing history or past purchases. While many internet users may be uncomfortable with the idea of data collection by ad-blocking software, they might not realize that it doesn’t always hide their personal information.

Some believe targeted ads make advertising more effective. However, 63% of people who use ad-blocking software feel that targeted ads infringe on their privacy.

Only 20% of users who block ads believe targeted ads are useful and personal. 17% disagree.

Users of ad blockers may believe that blocking ads protects their data. While ad blocking prevents users from seeing ads on the web, not all ad blocker extensions stop data collection.

Online privacy is a concern for Adblock users. They should check if their data is protected.

Ad Blockers such as AdBlock Plus can block companies from tracking online activity. Firefox and Google Chrome offer the ability to disable tracking.

Below are the privacy settings for Google Chrome. Users can send a “Do not track” request to Google Chrome when browsing online. This signals to websites that they shouldn’t collect any personal data.

Users can choose not to have their browsing data tracked. However, according to MakeUseOf (an online publication that provides guides for software and apps on the web), Do Not Track features cannot be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. They are instead enforced by an internet group that has a vested interest in collecting data from users. This means the features may not fully protect your online privacy.

Russell Volk, a RE/MAX agent in Bucks County (Pennsylvania), claims that his ad-blocker does not have a feature to block cookies. This means that websites can track his activities across the internet.

Volk stated that he doesn’t use his ad-blocking program to block cookies because he doesn’t believe it has the option. “I am very concerned about privacy and the sharing of my data with others. Although I realize that I am taking a significant risk by using an ad-blocking tool, I wish there were a better way.

Volk is still concerned about his data’s access, despite using ad-blocking software.

Anyone who wishes to protect their privacy beyond what their internet browsers can do, such as those using ad-blocking software, may find it useful. However, some privacy features of ad blockers are not limited.

Ad-Blocker users will avoid websites that target them with ads for half of their time

Targeted ads can cause discomfort in ad blocker users, which could impact their buying decisions. To build trust, businesses should not create ads that collect highly personal information. Instead, they should offer the user the opportunity to modify or delete their data.

Nearly half (45%) of respondents say they would stop using websites that target them with personalized ads.

35 percent of ad-blocker users say they are not likely or unlikely to discontinue using company websites after being targeted by ads. 20% state they are unlikely to stop using sites that target them.

Websites that target ad-blocking users are less likely to be visited by users who block ads. This shows that highly-personalized ads do not provide a more valuable experience for some users.

Advertisers claim that targeted ads make browsing easier and more personal. However, people who use ad-blocking software disagree with this argument because they want to control their browsing experience and maintain privacy.

Businesses must be aware of how they collect user information on their websites and how that data is used in advertising to avoid annoying ad blocker customers.

Particularly intrusive ads that include personal information such as age, marital status, or number of children can reflect on a user’s identity.

Tim Smith is the director of communications at IPNY. This advertising and marketing agency is located in New York. He believes that marketers should be careful when collecting data in advertising.

Smith stated that Smith believes ads should not be too personal. “For instance, if a brand knows my age, and sends me something with my exact age on it, that’s unacceptable unless we have a strong relationship.”

If they advertise data collection in an advertisement, such as an ad selling strollers to a mother-to-be, companies could alienate customers who are not familiar with their brand.

Businesses should give users access to their collected data

Personas are created from the data collected. These personas represent a user type that companies market to customers. Companies should allow users to access these personas, and let them remove any information they wish.

Instagram tracks users’ interests in ads based on their browsing activities, clicks, and engagements on the platform.

The image below shows Instagram listing users’ “Ads interests.” This user is likely to receive ads for clothes, travel, or fitness based on the Instagram data (likes, shares, and posts).

Instagram allows users to download all information that is collected by the platform. CNBC reports that Instagram users can access all of their histories through the Privacy and Security settings.

Companies that collect personal data can help build trust with users by making it easy for them to see the data they have collected and then remove it if necessary.

The younger generation is more likely to pay for ad-free browsing

While paying for ad-free browsing is one way to avoid off-putting targeted advertising, ad blocker users have a different approach. They are not happy with the cost of an ad-free online experience. Millennials and Gen Xers will pay more for an ad-free browsing experience than the baby boomers.

Nearly half (41%) of millennials and Generation Xers will pay to browse the internet without ads.

Only 29% of baby boomers, however, say they would pay to have a free browsing experience.

Digital natives are younger users who are more likely than others to be conscious of ad-free browsing options. Experts agree that younger users have higher expectations of user experience online.

Chicago web services firm Wojo Design founder Kyle Deming said that paid ad-free options may grow in popularity due to the impact of ad blocking on content creators. According to MediaPost, U.S. publishers suffered losses of $ 15.8 billion in annual revenue due to ad blocking.

Some publishers and browsers have had to change their advertising models to allow users to pay with their funds and not data, to recover their revenue.

Businesses can use the money that they have earned from ad-blocking users to purchase premium subscriptions.

Deming stated that it was helpful to have an alternate option that would allow people to skip ads after they become premium subscribers. You make it clear to the client that a free ad-free service is worth the cost. This helps clients understand the obvious consequence of using an advertising blocker. Content creators will have to charge for it.

People who disable ad-blocking software have an alternative. They can use ad-free browsers to get more control of their browsing experience, while still supporting the publishers and businesses they choose.

Web browsers are moving towards a paid, ad-free experience

Some web browsers are more concerned with online privacy than others.

Brave, a free web browser that does not display ads, was created by Brendan Eich (ex-chief executive officer at Mozilla). It blocks cookies and ads for a private browsing experience that is optimized.

Duke Taber is the managing editor and owner of Simple Church Tech. This content website helps churches to set up their technology. The Brave browser has been used by him for the past two years.

Taber writes blog posts on various topics. Taber uses Brave to block retargeted ads. Brave blocks Retargeting Pixels that track user behavior after visiting a website.

Taber stated that Brave has one benefit: I don’t have ads following me around due to retargeting pixels. It is the reason I use it for research. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I am interested in a topic just because I am researching it.

Taber is determined to avoid advertisements based on past research so he purchases a Brave browser. This browser will block online tracking.

Brave is an alternative browser that allows users to browse ad-free. Consumers may also prefer browsers that are ad-free to provide better privacy protections.

The Advertising Industry and Data Privacy are More Important to Baby Boomers

Online privacy is more important to certain generations. Online ads generated through data targeting are perceived by baby boomers as more intrusive than those of younger generations.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of baby boomers feel that data collection via ads is an invasion of privacy.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Generation X ad blocker users are millennials, and 58% find data collection for advertising invasive.

Many millennials were raised in an age of the internet, where they can share their personal information online. They have less need to protect their privacy online.

Smith stated that Smith believes younger people are less likely to be concerned about data collection, as it is something they have known. “They’ve been exposed to data breaches as a child and are connected online all their lives.”

Smith says that baby boomers are less likely to share personal information with brands with which they don’t have a relationship.

Smith stated that “Older generations have much to lose if their privacy is invaded or their data misused.”

Brands should establish relationships with baby boomers by providing valuable content that isn’t too personal to avoid alienating them.

Companies can increase their audience’s value by creating original, free content that does not require personal information.

Moz, an SEO company, offers video content and company blogs without the need for users to give their email addresses or any other personal information.

Click on the “Read This Post” button to navigate to Moz’s content. Although the website might display a pop-up asking users to sign up for more offers and enter their email addresses, it does not stop users from accessing valuable content.

Rachel Cunningham, the content marketing director of Bop Design a web design company in San Diego. According to her, it’s possible for businesses to ethically collect data from users to improve the user experience on websites.

Cunningham stated, “Be clear about what data you’re collecting, why, and what you intend to do with it.” Tell them if you intend to use cookies to improve the user’s experience. You must inform users if you collect their data to sign up for an email newsletter. It is always better to provide the information the consumer needs to make informed decisions.

Cunningham stated that businesses can communicate with users about how their data is used and why. This will help them strike a balance between offering a personalized online experience and gathering data untruly.

Companies can provide authentic experiences that are based on customer preference and not on intrusive marketing techniques by providing information and transparency to users.

Only one-quarter of Adblock users plan to download Privacy Extensions

Privacy extensions like Ghostery and Privacy Badger can be used to take control of your data via browsers. However, many ad-blocker users are not taking advantage of these privacy extensions.

Even though targeted ads are strongly disliked by many, 28% of those who use ad-blocking software plan to install privacy extensions within the next year.

It could be that many users don’t know about the privacy extensions available.

Privacy Badger is a browser extension by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It blocks ads and trackers that “violate user’s consent.”

Privacy Badger provides users with information about each tracker found on a website. It also gives them options for how to handle the trackers.

Volk intends to install privacy extensions in the near future to protect his browsing history from advertisers.

Volk stated that he plans to download a privacy extension for Chrome because he doesn’t want his browsing data to be hidden. “I am currently researching several extensions, and prevention of cookie track is the main function I’m focusing my attention on.”

Volk is seeking a privacy extension that will block cookie tracking and enhance his ad-blocking capabilities.

Privacy browser extensions can fill in some of the functional gaps left by ad-blocking software, but very few users intend to download them in 2019.

To combat privacy concerns, businesses should be transparent about data collection

Businesses must be able to understand the user’s interaction with online advertising as a result of ad blocking. Most people who use ad-blocking software believe that targeted ads infringe on their privacy.

Our survey found that 45% of people who use ad-blocking software will feel uncomfortable and will avoid sites that target them with personalized ads.

Ad-free browsing could be a solution to privacy problems. Millennials and Generation Xers will pay more for ad-free browsing than baby boomers, while baby boomers feel the most threatened by targeted ads.

Only 28% of respondents plan to install browser extensions that protect privacy, despite their concerns over online privacy.       

Or they could lose their customers who are picky about the information they provide.

About the author

Kobe Digital is a unified team of performance marketing, design, and video production experts. Our mastery of these disciplines is what makes us effective. Our ability to integrate them seamlessly is what makes us unique.