Smit, E. G., Van Noort, G., & Voorveld, H. A. M. (2014). Understanding online behavioural advertising: User knowledge, privacy concerns and online coping behaviour in Europe. Computers in Human Behavior, 32, 15–22. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.11.008

Abstract: Online behavioural advertising (OBA) is a special form of targeted advertising. For OBA, it is necessary to collect data about online surfing behaviour, which is usually undertaken by installing ‘cookies’. The use of cookies is heavily debated by policy makers in the US and Europe. Central to this discussion is whether users should provide informed consent prior to the installation of cookies. However, to provide informed consent, it is vital that website users understand the mechanisms of OBA and cookies. This study investigates whether the existing knowledge is sufficient, whether website users are concerned about their privacy, and how they cope with OBA, cookies and the requested informed consent. An online questionnaire (N = 2022) was fielded briefly after new European cookie regulations were enacted. The results confirmed that the knowledge is still insufficient to obtain good understanding of this new advertising technique. In addition, the results showed that groups of Internet users did not differ in terms of knowledge, although they did differ in terms of privacy concerns. A comparison of privacy-concerned groups showed that a dual approach is needed in communicating about OBA, not only to inform but also to reduce worries, especially in older and less-educated groups.
Keywords: Targeted advertising; informed consent; privacy concerns; survey; coping