As part of the drive to use ad dollars efficiently, marketers are set on tracking consumers online and targeting them with promotional material. Consumers have strong feelings on these topics. Their negative reaction to targeting has as much to do with the ads they don’t see as it has to do with privacy.

The problems with privacy and the Web have been well known since the beginning of the Internet days. Historically, older consumers hold the strongest objections to being tracked. Over 83% of those age 50+ say such activity by marketers and Internet-providers is a violation of privacy. For 67% of younger consumers, those between the ages of 30-49, the practice of collecting personal data to improve targeting holds little appeal. On the other hand, 56% young consumers between the ages of 18-29 believe that current targeting strategy may actually limit the information they want to see. Attitudes about online targeting are also linked to income and ethnic groups. White consumers and those earning more than $50,000 object to online targeted advertising at a higher rate than African Americans, Hispanics, or those that earn less income.

Marketers need to tread carefully here. Along with targeted advertising, consumers are growing weary of seeing too many ads. It was consumer frustration with TV ads that led to the popularity of DVRs. Nearly 20% of consumers are so tired of what they believe is excessive online promotion that they may stop using a specific product or even turn away from a social networking site that enables this kind of promotion. This finding, from the 2012 Digital Advertising Attitudes Report, shows that even Generation C members can tire of ceaseless promotion. About 24% of 18-24-year-olds say they’ll complain on social media to inform their friends when they feel they’ve been subjected to too much advertising.

The results of these studies show that marketers must remain sensitive to consumer attitudes about online marketing. To earn and maintain consumer trust, they’ll need to improve targeting, reduce frequency and emphasis the importance of the steps they are taking to keep their customers satisfied.

[Sources: Upstream Research. Upstreamsystems.com. Feb. 2012. Web. 20 Mar. 2012; Search Engine Use. PewInternet.org. Feb. 2012. Web. 20 Mar. 2012]