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Web Surfers Troubled by Tracking, Poll Says

Published on December 21, 2010
by Courtney Banks

A new poll suggests most U.S. Internet users are aware they are being tracked online by advertisers, and are troubled by the practice.

According to the poll, 61 percent of Internet users said they’ve noticed that some online ads appear to be targeted at them based on their Web-browsing habits. Curiously, though, 90 percent of respondents said they pay little or no attention to online ads.

Two-third of respondents said advertisers should not be allowed to target ads based on online tracking. And 61 percent said tracking is not justified even to keep websites free.

The poll, of 840 adult Internet users, was conducted Dec. 10-12 by USA Today and Gallup Inc.

The poll suggests users want more control over tracking and behaviorally targeted advertising. Respondents were asked if they’d prefer to allow all advertising networks to target ads, none to target ads or “only those advertising networks you choose.” Nearly half, 47 percent, preferred being able to select networks that could target ads; 37 percent did not want any targeted ads and 14 percent said they would allow all targeted ads.

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