Targeted Ads: Interesting or Intrusive?

The ability to target advertising based on demographic traits, past purchases or personal interests is arguably the biggest appeal of online advertising from an advertiser’s point of view. For consumers however, targeted ads can be a painful reminder that we’re never really alone on the internet, and it’s safe to say that targeted (or retargeted) ads have given away plenty of birthday surprises after careless online gift shoppers forgot to delete their cookies after browsing for gifts on the family computer.

According to a recent YouGov poll, 51 percent of Americans think that targeted ads are an inappropriate use of personal data, with older Americans particularly averse to being served targeted ads. Those respondents aged 18 to 24 are slightly more open to ad targeting, with 41 percent saying that targeted ads are a convenient way to see interesting products.


This chart shows Americans' view on targeted online advertising.