–Dan Kelly, Attorney

Professors at the University of Pennsylvania and at UC Berkeley School of Law released a study this week conclusively titled “Americans Reject Tailored Advertising,” suggesting that there is high resistance among individuals to tailored advertising on the Internet.  (Press release from Penn here, NYT coverage here.)  Although I have been unable to download a copy of the study, it apparently suggests that there is a desire for legislation in this area.  From the Penn press release:

The Berkeley-Annenberg team found that 92 percent of those polled agree there should be a law that requires websites and advertising companies to delete all stored information about an individual, if requested to do so.  Sixty-three percent believe advertisers should be legally required to delete information about their internet activity immediately, whether requested or not.

Apparently, these findings are not without controversy.  In March, a company called TRUSTe, a self-proclaimed “leading internet privacy services provider,” released survey results suggesting that people are increasingly comfortable with being tracked on the Internet, and that they are really more annoyed by advertising that is irrelevant to their needs and wants.

I have not had the chance to wade through both studies, each of which is based upon its own survey of about 1,000 individuals, but it seems to me simply from reading the press releases related to each that both studies suffer from problems of bias.  In addition, I ran across a headline this week that sales of Internet advertising are outpacing sales of TV advertising in the U.K.  I understand that this statistic is not directly on point:  it is U.K. data, not U.S. data, and it does not distinguish targeted ads from non-targeted ads.  Even so, it seems to me that whatever the studies and surveys supposedly say, or are designed to convey, there seems to be a rather robust market for advertising on the Internet.