LONDON, September 9, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Suspicious information being held about them online, users are refusing to give out personal details or building false profiles. Are consumers right to be concerned? And how can the industry regain their trust without having to resort to underhand tactics?

Advertising online is at a tipping point. With the sheer quantity of information spewed out onto the world wide web, online users are becoming more and more frustrated with the irrelevancy and intrusion of advertisements, while resistant to guarding their privacy.

Just as people in day-to-day life expect public services to be top notch with low taxes, online users expect high-quality, relevant material without the price tag. Of more than 1,200 people surveyed for digital marketing show ad:tech London by Zussi Research, 32 per cent say they view the internet as an essentially free media.

However, the majority (56 per cent) say they would like internet to remain subsidised by advertisers but they are unwilling to swap personal information for this subsidisation, even if this means more irrelevant, non-personalised white noise. 'The industry needs to provide consumers with greater motivation to give away their [correct] personal details,' says Christophe Asselin, ad:tech conference and marketing director. Just 1.6 per cent of those surveyed wanted to increase advert relevancy by exchanging their details.

Customers may be spooked by the well-publicised and controversial new technologies, such as Google Street View or Facebook location-based tools. Recently consumers have started to realise the extent of their personal information that is available online. With 26 million people on Facebook and geolocation services already being rolled out, users have started to panic over their 'Facebook footprint'.

Facebook spokeswoman Sophy Silver argues that privacy had become blown out of proportion: 'We understand the concern around privacy, so we now offer options that are as granular as possible. We want people to be able to share information in the way that they want. The problem we faced before was that we made it too complicated,' says Silver. She likens the uproar around privacy to the annoyance surrounding caller ID back in the '80s. 'I remember when BT brought in caller ID, my parents were up in arms about their number being visible when they made calls. They saw this as an invasion of their privacy. [The internet community] is going through massive changes at the moment with how we access and share information and there are some people who panic at these changes. We'll look back at this in the same way we did with caller ID.'

The online consumer expects the best of all worlds: free content, no ads, or as few as possible, and no tiresome demands for the kind of additional personal information that advertisers love. Are they right or wrong?

Asselin says the industry can't complain about such consumer attitudes after years of gathering data on the quiet and using confusion about online rules of engagement to push privacy boundaries. In that context why not demand everything for free or fake your profile to get it for free? Ultimately, who would think that irrelevant ads aren't annoying? Consumer behaviour and expectation have been set up by the industry itself, he says.

ad:tech London speaker and BBC head of technology for marketing, communications and audiences, Mark Kelleher, says that it's the industry that needs to give users the motivation to share their personal information and preferences. 'Given the changing behaviour of the public with the advent of multimedia, online promotions could hold huge potential value but the reason some organisations may not be seeing this growth is that the user experience is not tailored enough.' Kelleher says that one way we can bridge this gap is through giving users the opportunity to tailor the content to their needs, just as the BBC has aimed to do with its homepage and iPlayer.

'Personalisation and tailoring content is the key to online strategies,' he says.

Asselin agrees: 'There are many opportunities for digital advertising to be far more engaging than traditional media. But this research shows that it isn't hitting the mark with users,' he says. 'Customers expect online content that is relevant and pertinent to them as individuals. The catch-all solution isn't working and online advertising isn't yet delivering on what consumers need or want.' Rather than creating a positive image of a brand, users find online advertising annoying.

Despite online growing rapidly in company expenditure, digital marketers are still falling short of communicating their messages. 'The industry cannot carry on with an unworkable model,' argues Asselin. 'Digital marketers need to change their mindset. It should be up to the industry to look after their customers, before they lose trust. We need to find out what really works and understand what customers really want from their online offering. Just because we can find out personal information without permission, doesn't mean that we should.'

Managing a crisis: What matters in digital ( will delve into this topic further at the ad:tech London Conference on 21 September. The debate will take place between LBi MD, Anil Pillai; Bell-Pottinger Sans Frontieres director of strategy, Paul Baverstock and Bell Pottinger Sans Frontieres director of sector reputation, Mark Linder.

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Notes to Editors:

ad:tech London 2010 is taking place at Olympia National, London, 21-22 September 2010.

About ad:tech

The BBC's Mark Kelleher will be speaking at ad:tech London, 21-22 September 2010, along with King of Shaves founder Will King and Lonely Planet global online director Kelly Brough, on Three examples demonstrating the power of conversation in brand building.(

Facebook's Colm Long, director of Online Operations, EMEA will be discussing Making it social with Facebook at the conference on 21 September 2010

ad:tech London, part of the Daily Mail Group and, in its sixth year, is firmly established as the premier UK Exhibition and Conference exclusively dedicated to the online advertising and marketing industry.

ad:tech provides a meeting point for 8,000 marketers and advertisers . It comprises of a paid-for conference, free exhibition and free educational seminars.

ad:tech aims to address the dynamic digital marketplace and the issues facing advertising and marketing functions as they look to stand out from the crowd and discover the next generation of opportunities.

This year, brands, agencies, publishers and solution providers include: Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Coca Cola, LVMH, DELL, BT, Moshi Monsters, WPP, Microsoft, AKQA, Lush, BBC, 20th Century Fox, King of Shaves, Phone Valley, Mail Online, the Mirror, Neo@Ogilvy and MindShare.

The show originates from the USA, where for 15 years it has been showcasing. Underpinned by the support of industry leaders, key associations, governmental organisations and academic experts, ad:tech London's reach extends to every marketing decision maker throughout Europe.

ad:tech conferences currently take place in New York, San Francisco, London, Sydney, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and Beijing. ad:tech will continue to expand globally in order to provide online marketing communities with great opportunities to network, share best practices and ideas everywhere in the world.

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Press passes: Laura Paterson, ad:tech, t +44(020)3180-6591 PR Further information: Catherine Thurtle , ad:tech, t. +44(020)3180-6594 Editor General information: Christophe Asselin, ad:tech, t. +44(0)20-3180-6678 Event director

SOURCE: ad:tech, part of the Daily Mail Group

CONTACT: Press passes: Laura Paterson, ad:tech, t +44(020)3180-6591, PR,; Further information: Catherine Thurtle ,ad:tech, t. +44(020)3180-6594, Editor,;General information: Christophe Asselin, ad:tech, t. +44(0)20-3180-6678,Event director,