Privacy groups oppose advert targeting

Privacy groups have strongly opposed online...

Privacy groups have strongly opposed online advert-targeting technology, but nearly half of UK consumers say they are not bothered by it, a survey has revealed.

Opposition from privacy groups has delayed full UK implementation of the technology, which helps advertisers target web users based on their browsing habits.

A survey that polled 1,000 consumers found that 45% are open to marketers using this technique to send them more relevant offers, provided they have the ability to opt out.

Some 35% said behavioural targeting helped them discover new products, 34% said it could save time and 29% said it makes online shopping easier, the Dynamic Markets survey found.

Few people understand that the data is collected anonymously, said Richard Sheppard, vice-presidentfor the EMEA region at online analytics firm Coremetrics, which commissioned the survey.

The technology provides marketers with valuable data about how spending habits are changing in the credit crunch, he said.

A survey of 100 UK marketing managers revealed that 60% have tried the technique in the past year, but 66% believe consumers are unhappy to be targeted this way.

Despite the positive attitude of consumers revealed by the survey, the future of behavioural targeting technologies remains uncertain.

UK opponents say it is illegal under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and European officials may soon rule that consumer profiling breaches privacy laws.

After thwarted attempts to conduct extensive UK trials of its behaviour targeting technology, London-based firm Phorm is to begin trials in Korea.

Korea has 15 million broadband subscribers, and Phorm estimates that the online advertising market is worth £1.1bn a year.

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