Education, education, education (part two)

A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of informing and educating consumers about the internet. This followed a revamp of the IAB’s website – – aimed at helping internet users understand online behavioural advertising, how it works and how to switch it off if they want to. Today the IAB, in partnership with business law firm Olswang, has published new research confirming that consumers need (and want) more information and education about online privacy and the practice of behavioural advertising.

The research confirms that consumers today are far more trusting of the internet as a medium, compared with more than five years ago. People – particularly young people – are more comfortable with sharing their personal information with shopping websites, banks and social networking sites. But there’s no room for complacency: consumers may be more acclimatised to the internet and the role it now plays in our everyday lives but they also want to have it on their owns terms and wish to know more about new digital marketing techniques, such as behavioural advertising.

72% of internet users are – unsurprisingly – unaware about behavioural advertising, how it works and what information is collected and used. However, the research results are particularly enlightening when consumers are provided with the relevant information. For example:

•81% of internet users do not know the level of control they actually have over behavioural advertising, such as their right to switch it off.
•74% of internet users are actually more comfortable with behavioural advertising when they are provided with information about what data is collected and used and how it can be controlled.

Behavioural advertising remains a relatively new online practice. As the Government’s Digital Britain report acknowledged it is an important business model to help web publishers convert “creativity into value”. Industry needs to find a balance between making advertising more measurable and effective whilst protecting consumer privacy. It’s a balance that the IAB, its members and the rest of the advertising industry is working to get right and education – as this research very clearly shows – needs to be at the heart of it.

Follow the IAB on Twitter.