While discovery of new and relevant content is the most mentioned benefit for the use of consumer or political targeted online advertising, the public identify invasions of privacy and personal information being shared with third parties as the most prevalent concerns, highlighting a tension between personalisation of content and privacy.
Half of the public (50%) chose ‘it will help people discover new products that might be of interest to them’ as a benefit in relation to targeted online consumer advertisement, while only one third (33%) select this as a benefit for targeted online political advertisement (‘It will help people discover new political representatives who might be of interest to them’). Similar proportions for both technologies mention the relevance of ads as a benefit for consumer targeted advertising (53%) and for political ads (32%).
Table 9: Most commonly selected benefits for targeted online advertising
‘Which of the following, if any, are ways you think the use of this technology will be beneficial?’
|Targeted consumer advertising||1 More relevant ads||55%|
|2 Discover new products||50%|
|3 Faster and easier||39%|
|Targeted political advertising||1 Faster and easier||35%|
|2 Discover new politicians||33%|
|3 More relevant ads||32%|
However, as seen in previous sections, people are highly concerned about these uses of AI. Over two thirds of people (69%) identify invading privacy as a concern for targeted online consumer advertisements, while 51% identify this for political advertisements. Similarly, 68% selected ‘the technology will gather personal information which could be shared with third parties’ as a concern for consumer adverts while 48% selected this concern for political adverts.
This suggests that while the public might find social media advertising more helpful in discovering relevant content, especially for consumer adverts, they are also less trusting of what is done with their personal information.
This resonates with the findings from an online study on online advertising in the UK and France which found that most participants were concerned about how their browsing activity was being used even when they saw some of the benefits related to discovery. The study concluded that participants wanted their data, and their ability to choose how it is used, to be respected and to be able to ‘practically, meaningfully, and simply curate their own advertising experience’.
Table 10: Most commonly selected concerns for targeted online advertising
|Targeted consumer advertising||1 Invade privacy||69%|
|2 Sharing personal information||68%|
|3 Security of personal information||50%|
|Targeted political advertising||1 Invade privacy||51%|
|2 Sharing personal information||48%|
|3 Reduce diversity of content||46%|