According to a recent online study conducted for Truste, a global data privacy management company, 68 percent of U.S. smartphone users are concerned with their activity being tracked for the purpose of targeted ads sent to their mobile devices. The survey also showed that smartphone users’ awareness of the AdChoices icon, part of the Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulatory program for online behavioral advertising (OBA) increased to 37 percent from 21 percent the previous year. The AdChoices icon allows users to learn how they receive interest-based ads and gives them the ability to control which ads they see and from which companies they will be sent, as well as an option to opt out of personal targeting.
Mobile operators have been using data collection as a revenue generator for quite some time. However, as we have written before, users have very real concerns over privacy. These recent findings suggest that although most smartphone users are uncomfortable with OBA, as consumers become more aware that they can control the types of ads they receive they are more likely to be more receptive of OBA in general. Thirty three percent of the users surveyed said that the information available on AdChoices, along with the ability of opting out of OBA would make them feel more positive about the concept of targeted ads. It is important for operators and the advertisers they partner with to be transparent about what kinds of data they are collecting and about how subscribers can opt out of having their data collected. For operators, the negative effects of sharing users’ data without their permission may far outweigh the benefits of the revenue the shared data produces. On the positive side, as users become more comfortable in allowing their information to be tracked, an increase in the number of targeted mobile ads sent to smartphone users means an increased revenue stream for MNOs.