What Consumers Believe About Ads: Effectiveness, Creepiness, Transparency

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Consumers widely find personalized ads creepy, and they are not commonly convinced that those campaigns offer them salient benefits. That’s a finding from a recent survey by Best SEO Companies, which in a poll of 1,052 Americans found that 65 percent find personalized ads creepy and only 36 percent consider them beneficial.

The good news for advertisers is that members of Gen-Z, while finding ads just about as threatening to privacy as respondents of every other age group, appear to see their benefits, too. Forty-six percent of Gen-Zers said personalization can be beneficial, compared to 30-36 percent of older age groups. About three quarters of respondents in all age ranges said personalizations imperils privacy.

As for data collection, the practice that makes personalization possible, 52 percent said they are aware of the extent to which their data is collected. But just 33 percent said they understand how much their data is sold. Only about a quarter understand how to access the data companies have collected on them, a right conferred by the California Consumer Privacy Act, which went into effect earlier this month.

Despite their concerns about the creepiness of targeted ads, consumers click on them. Thirty-seven percent said they had clicked on targeted online ads. Search ads registered the highest rate of confessed engagement at 48 percent, followed by Facebook and Instagram ads at 38 and 37 percent, respectively. A whopping 50 percent of Gen-Z respondents had clicked on an Instagram ad.

Seventy-nine percent said they are always able to identify ads. While 40 percent said they are not influenced by ads, 58 percent of respondents who said that had also clicked on campaigns, demonstrating the reach of digital marketing efforts.

Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]