Consumer Awareness of Ad Biz’s Privacy Self-Reg Low, but Improving

Annual study shows industry still has work to do

The interactive advertising business has done a pretty good job of convincing regulators to give its self-regulation program for online behavioral advertising a chance to the point where the Federal Trade Commission publicly supported the program when it issued its privacy report in March. But it needs to do a better job when it comes to consumers.

A new study from Truste, a company that provides privacy tools for companies to comply with the industry's ad choices program, found that public awareness for the icon remains low at 14 percent.

Still, the figure represents an improvement over last year's dismal 5 percent, before the industry began rolling out an education campaign and website designed by McCann Erickson.

Conducted by Harris Interactive for Truste, the online and mobile privacy perceptions report suggests that the ad industry will need to keep up its privacy outreach. Privacy is a growing concern among consumers with 60 percent of those surveyed more concerned today than they were last year.

The report also found that awareness of behaviorally targeted advertising is up, from 70 percent to 83 percent. More than half of those surveyed (58 percent) don't like it; 53 percent believe that personally identifiable information is used to track them.

The good news is that consumers will choose websites and mobile apps if they believe their privacy is protected; 65 percent have stopped doing business with websites because of privacy concerns. Privacy mistrust is a bigger factor with mobile apps where 85 percent of consumers said they wouldn’t download an app if they were worried about privacy.

All the statistics add up to one thing. The ad industry has its job cut out for it. While the business continues to make progress with consumers, it may have a bigger challenge ahead convincing congressional Democrats, who continue to express skepticism that the industry can regulate itself when it comes to privacy. 

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