In addition to asking search users about personalized search results, all internet users were asked whether they had noticed ads being targeted to them online and more broadly, their opinion of targeted advertising. A majority (59%) say they themselves have noticed targeted advertising online – specifically, they have noticed advertisements online that are directly related to things they had recently searched for or sites they had recently visited.
The demographic groups most likely to report noticing targeted advertising online are men, white internet users, those under age 65, those who have been to college, and those living in higher income households. Three-quarters (73%) of college graduates have noticed online ads related to things they recently searched for or sites they recently visited, significantly higher than online adults with lower educational attainment. Likewise, online adults living in households with annual incomes of $75,000 or greater are also especially likely to notice such ads, with 69% reporting having this experience.
Internet users were then asked how they feel about the practice of online targeted advertising. Roughly two-thirds of internet users (68%) have an unfavorable view of the practice, saying they are not okay with targeted advertising because they do not like having their online behavior tracked and analyzed. Some 28% said they are okay with targeted advertising because it means they see advertisements and get information about things they are really interested in.
While a majority of every demographic group says they are not okay with online targeted advertising, younger internet users and those in the lowest income households are more likely than others to view the practice favorably. Yet, even among those groups, almost six in ten say they are not okay with targeted ads because they do not like having their online behavior tracked and analyzed.