While search engines, advertisers and marketers are positive that consumers want to be more individually targeted, consumers themselves don’t agree that having their information tracked and stored is worth the tradeoff. A majority of them dislike the practice, although their reasons vary.
That’s a lot of concerned people, since Pew Internet data reports that on any given day in early 2012, more than half of adults using the internet use a search engine (59 percent) – double the 30 percent of internet users who were using search engines on a typical day in 2004.
Specifically, the Pew Internet & American Life survey found that 73 percent of search engine users feel it is an invasion of privacy for a search engine to keep track of their searches and use that information to personalize future search results.
Not quite as many (65 percent) think search engines doing this is bad because it might limit the information they get and what search results they see, while 29 percent believe it’s good because the results are more relevant to them personally.
The survey also asked all Internet users about targeted advertising, and 68 percent don’t like having their online behavior tracked and analyzed, while 28 percent like seeing advertising messaging about things they are interested in rather than just general ads.
Most of them aren’t sure how to limit websites gathering their information, either, with 38 percent saying they are “generally aware” of methods for doing this. Among that subset, 81 percent delete their web history, while 65 percent change their browser settings to suit their preferences.
Summary of Pew Internet report on search engines – http://tinyurl.com/7c74u8e
Download the report here [PDF].