With 2 in 3 Consumers More Concerned About Privacy Than a Year Ago, New TrustArc Study Finds Transparency, Education and Privacy Controls Make Big Difference for Behavioral Ads

As companies like Google and Facebook come under fire for increasing and often unwelcome online tracking, TrustArc, the leading global data privacy management (DPM) company, today announced findings from its latest privacy study – letting consumers speak for themselves about what they like and don’t like about online behavioral advertising (OBA).


Conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of TrustArc, the “2013 U.S. Consumer Data Privacy Study: Advertising Edition” surveyed 1,171 U.S. Internet users between June 12 and June 19, 2013. The release of TrustArc’s study also coincides with the start of its “Powering Trust” Roadshow, addressing the biggest privacy challenges in online advertising, with events being held in San Francisco, New York, and London.


Although privacy concerns remain high, TrustArc’s 2013 survey shows that increased transparency and privacy controls engender more positive feelings about OBA. In addition, consumers want businesses to be clear and forthright about data usage and to give them the ability to make their own privacy choices. Only by doing so can businesses expect to create a strong and lasting foundation to support new technology innovations, such as online tracking.


Concurrent with its U.S. survey, TrustArc also released findings from its “2013 UK Consumer Data Privacy Study: Advertising Edition.” See UK study here.


“As demonstrated time and time again through numerous privacy firestorms, online companies that don’t clearly explain what’s happening with customer data or fully inform users of their choices contribute to a climate of fear,” said Chris Babel, CEO for TRUSTe.


“As our research shows, we think that by listening and responding to what users want, we can eliminate that fear and increase trust in the ever-growing data economy.”


“This poll confirms that businesses that demonstrate their commitment to consumer privacy fare far better in the marketplace than those that do not. Giving consumers notice of online behavioral advertising and the ability to opt out through the DAA AdChoices icon is simply the best decision a company can make,” said Genie Barton, VP and Director of the Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB).


“It benefits all companies to adhere to the highest privacy standards when using interest-based advertising, and we will continue to build consumer trust in businesses by rigorous enforcement of the DAA Program.”


2013 U.S. Consumer Data Privacy Study: Advertising Edition – Key Findings

Evolving Consumer Attitudes about Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA)

Compared with 2011 and 2012, a growing number of consumers not only feel more positive toward OBA when they are given the choice and ability to opt out but also are more willing to click on an advertisement when they have been given the option to opt out.


  • 62% of consumers would be inclined to do more business with a company that gives the option to opt out of OBA (up from 55% in 2011 and 61% in 2012)
  • 53% of consumers are more willing to click on an ad that gives them the option to opt out (up from 51% in 2011 and 49% in 2012)


Awareness and understanding of the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) AdChoices icon have also increased, contributing to more positive perceptions about OBA.


  • 40% of Internet users are more positive about OBA when a banner ad uses the AdChoices icon
  • 44% are more positive about the business running the ad when a banner ad uses the AdChoices icon


“TrustArc’s findings validate our firm belief that by embracing transparency, businesses can – and are – building consumer trust,” said Lou Mastria, managing director for the DAA.

“These statistics also show that with better education – through the DAA Program and its AdChoices icon – customers are becoming more aware about the choices they have in managing interest-based advertising.”

High Consumer Privacy Concerns Can Impact the Bottom Line

Despite the positive news for businesses, there’s still significant work that’s needed to boost consumer confidence and avoid losing business.

  • While 69% of Internet users understand the value tradeoff of online ads in terms of free content, only 26% are willing to let advertisers use online browsing to show them targeted ads for free content and services
  • 91% of Internet users say privacy is an important issue (down from 94% in 2011 and 2012)
  • 64% of Internet users are more concerned about privacy than a year ago
  • 1 out of 3 Internet users say they have stopped doing business with a company or using its website due to privacy concerns

Privacy Protections – Who’s Accountable?

81% of users still hold themselves most responsible for their privacy, but they also hold website owners/publishers (76%), social networks (73%), browsers (72%) and advertisers/ad networks (65%) highly responsible.


For full details of TRUSTe’s findings, click here.


Conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of TRUSTe, the interviews were administered between June 12 and June 19, 2013, among 1,171 U.S. Internet users, aged 18 and older. The online surveys are not based on probability sample and therefore no estimate or theoretical sampling error can be calculated.