Brits feel uncomfortable with third-party internet habits tracking for tailored advertising

More than two-thirds of Brits feel uncomfortable with advertising and media companies tracking their internet and social media browsing, according to a recent YouGov survey.

This opinion was expressed across the board: more than half of respondents in 15 of the 17 regions surveyed felt equally uneasy. In addition to Britain’s 72%, Spain and the US are also at the top, both with 69% of respondents feeling uncomfortable with this idea.

In the past month, YouGov surveyed just under 19,119 people in different regions (UK, mainland Europe, Asia, UAE and US) to understand the public’s feelings towards targeted advertising by online activity to follow, as well as the types of messages needed to attract engagement.

There are a handful of respondents in certain regions who seem to have no problem with this concept. Accordingly, in India, more than half (55%) of respondents are satisfied with advertising and media companies tracking their online use, with 18% being “very comfortable”.

The UAE and China are in comparable positions at 50% and 49% respectively.

Of the total sample, 61% would prefer not to have third parties follow their habits, even if it means future ads aren’t tailored to their preferences and interests. However, 32% thought otherwise.

Survey participants were also asked what types of posts they were most likely to get fully engaged in an ad.

While some agree that if the ad focuses on the benefits of the product, they are likely to be fully engaged, more people would prefer to be entertained, for example with humor.

Forty-five percent of Britons agree, as do more than a third of respondents across all 17 regions.

For Indonesia, 62% of respondents want to be entertained, followed by China and Hong Kong at 60% and 57% respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum, viewers are less likely to interact with ads that convey an important message, such as issues affecting particular groups, such as racism or homophobia, or ads that talk about global issues, such as the environment and sustainability.

Only 20% of Britons surveyed are likely to be fully engaged in ads that talk about global issues, and even fewer (12%) when messages convey issues that concern particular groups of people.

Respondents in Mexico and India, however, are much more candid when it comes to these types of messages in advertisements. Half of respondents in both countries agree that they would fully respond to an ad that talks about issues affecting particular groups of people.

As for ads conveying messages about global issues, 32% of respondents in India are likely to respond fully; Mexico and the UAE are just behind at 28%.

Of the total cohort surveyed, 45% of respondents would be fully engaged in an ad if it entertained and humored them; f31% lower when ads talk about global issues. But only 18% would be fully involved in ads that talk about issues that affect certain groups of people.

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