The balance between protecting consumers' privacy and reaching them with relevant targeted ads is a constant struggle for the online ad industry. And consumers experience a similar tension, according to several surveys published in recent months.
After a December 2012 survey of 2,000 customers in the US and UK, Accenture Interactive found that 86% of respondents said they were worried about websites tracking their actions, but 85% also said they understood it is a necessary tactic to properly target consumers.
There's no doubt that advertising online can be frustrating for consumers. In late February 2013, InsightsOne's 2013 Bad Ads Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that 91% of consumers reported seeing an annoying ad with irrelevant pop-ups – lottery scams and male enhancement ads as the most annoying.
"A lot of the impressions we're making on the customer may have a detrimental impact on the relationship with that customer," said Bob Dutcher, VP of marketing for InsightsOne. "In the age of social media, Facebook and Twitter, a lot of consumers are willing to give a little more information if it results in a better experience. The frustration is, and where marketers and companies can get in trouble, if they are leveraging that information but not giving something back to the consumer, not giving them a better experience. It has to be a two-way relationship."