New research from Brand Republic has found that the British public are prepared to have their browsing monitored to facilitate a more personalised service from the search engine providers.
Apparently Google intends to monitor user habits in order to target ads and this has alarmed privacy advocates who believe such acts are too much of an invasion.
However, the public seem less bothered. In fact, with the one caveat that their personal details are not linked to the recorded habits, Brits like the idea of having ads that are related to their interests offered on sites like Google or Yahoo and that to do so would enhance their user experience.
Targeted ads of course already exist. Social networking sites such as Facebook use subscribers’ personal details to focus advertising and this is a big source of income for them.
From a personal perspective I must admit that I was rather slow to appreciate this on my Facebook account. For weeks I was seeing many rugby related ads, thinking that the company was just making a big Facebook advertising push before realising that these ads were specifically targeted to me using my data.
At first I felt slightly violated, as if my personal details had been used against me without my permission but then I realised that no one else had been given my information and that in fact I was benefitting from seeing ads that did actually interest me. To date I haven’t responded to the ads but I’m happy to know that company and its products exist.
While some may not like the idea (they will be able to opt out), most I think will be happy with targeted ads because they fit in well with the Internet ethos for rapid availability of desired information. If targeted ads give us more of what we want in a shorter period of time then most of us would regard this as an enhanced online experience.
So get ready for lots more targeted ads and a more personalised feel to your browsing.