Security Experts:

Security and Privacy Fears Hurting Online Marketers

Users Cite Online Privacy and Security Fears as Top Reasons for Not Clicking Online Advertisements

Online security and privacy fears seem to be having a fairly significant effect on online marketing performance, according to data from a recent study.

Ad Click RatesThe study, co-commissioned by online advertising technology companies, AdKeeper and 24/7 Real Media, revealed that over half of users don’t click online ads because they are afraid of receiving spam from advertisers or worried about getting a virus.

The study, sought to explain the 2010 industry average click-through rate (CTR) of 0.09 percent for online advertising, was conducted by Nielsen over a 5-day period beginning on March 4, 2011 among 600 randomly selected adult U.S. residents aged 18 to 54 who hardly ever or never click online banner advertisements.

According to the results, the top reason people don’t click banner advertisements was because they don't want to be taken away from their current online activity.

Reasons why respondents say they don’t click online advertisements:

• 55 percent – are worried about getting a virus.

• 57 percent – are afraid of receiving spam from advertisers.

• 31 percent are worried that their Internet behavior will be tracked.

• 58 percent say online banner ads are not that relevant to them.

• 54 percent – don’t trust most online banner ads they see.

• 46 percent – worry that pop-ups will take over their screen.

• 43 percent say online banner ads don’t seem interesting or engaging.

• 31 percent only want to click ads when they’re in the mood or interested in looking at them.

• 61 percent don’t want to be distracted

As frustrating as this may be for marketers, consumers may have some solid reasoning for their concerns. According to Dasient, a firm that helps discover and combat Web-based malware, “malvertising,” a method used to distribute malware via ad tags served through a publisher’s Web site, saw a significant spike in Q4 2010. Dasient estimated that in the last quarter of 2010 there was a 25% increase in malvertising ad impressions based on the same set of networks it monitored in Q3. According to estimates from Dasient’s Q4 Malware Update, 1.1 Million Web sites were infected with malware in Q4 2010.

A recent incident when The London Stock Exchange Web Site served ads from an ad network that had been serving malicious ads, resulted in the site being flagged by google as malicious, showing the damage that can be done to a brand as a result. While the London Stock Exchange didn’t technically serve malware, it was serving ads from servers that were, which caused it to be flagged as a threat to most users attempting to visit the site.

“Click-through rates for online ads are unacceptably low, which helps explain the disparity between online spending and time spent online by consumers,” said Scott Kurnit, Founder, Chairman and CEO of AdKeeper. “Advertisers spend only 15 percent of their budgets online, while consumers spend 28 percent of their media time on the Internet. This is the first study to ask why consumers don’t click on ads and shows the importance of allowing consumers to control their interaction with online ads, making them useable content, not interruptions.”

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.