Smart, useful, scary, creepy: Perceptions of online behavioral advertising

Blase Ur, Pedro Giovanni Leon, Lorrie Faith Cranor, Richard Shay, Yang Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

123 Scopus citations

Abstract

We report results of 48 semi-structured interviews about online behavioral advertising (OBA). We investigated non-technical users' attitudes about and understanding of OBA, using participants' expectations and beliefs to explain their attitudes. Participants found OBA to be simultaneously useful and privacy invasive. They were surprised to learn that browsing history is currently used to tailor advertisements, yet they were aware of contextual targeting. Our results identify mismatches between participants' mental models and current approaches for providing users with notice and choice about OBA. Participants misinterpreted icons intended to notify them about behavioral targeting and expected that they could turn to their browser or antivirus software to control OBA. Participants had strong concerns about data collection, and the majority of participants believed that advertisers collect personally identifiable information. They also misunderstood the role of advertising networks, basing their opinions of an advertising network on that company's non-advertising activities. Participants' attitudes towards OBA were complex and context-dependent. While many participants felt tailored advertising could benefit them, existing notice and choice mechanisms are not effectively reaching users. Copyright is held by the author/owner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSOUPS 2012 - Proceedings of the 8th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 20 2012
Event8th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, SOUPS 2012 - Washington, DC, United States
Duration: Jul 11 2012Jul 13 2012

Publication series

NameSOUPS 2012 - Proceedings of the 8th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security

Other

Other8th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, SOUPS 2012
CountryUnited States
CityWashington, DC
Period7/11/127/13/12

Keywords

  • Advertising networks
  • Cookies
  • Interviews
  • Notice and choice
  • Online behavioral advertising
  • Privacy
  • Tracking
  • User perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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  • Cite this

    Ur, B., Leon, P. G., Cranor, L. F., Shay, R., & Wang, Y. (2012). Smart, useful, scary, creepy: Perceptions of online behavioral advertising. In SOUPS 2012 - Proceedings of the 8th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security [4] (SOUPS 2012 - Proceedings of the 8th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security). https://doi.org/10.1145/2335356.2335362