For advertisers, behavioral targeting is definitely useful. But that importance is not clear to some consumers. In fact, studies show that there is a huge difference between how users feel towards privacy and what they actually do in light of this concept. When it comes to behavioral targeting, it has been shown that consumers have different levels of skill and knowledge when it comes to privacy. This is the summary of an article by Donghee Yvette Wohn and Chandan Sarkar. You can get the pdf of the behavioral targeting article here: Expertise Matters: Privacy Perceptions and Practices in Response to Behavioral Targeting.
Self-efficacy is an important concept. It may explain why users become less worried about privacy concerns as they become more experienced in dealing with the Internet. This study focuses on consumer self-efficacy, knowledge and expertise, and the effects of these factors toward privacy behaviors and attitudes. It attempts to answer how computer expertise affect users’ perception of privacy and use of security settings, and is there a difference in how self-efficacy and knowledge affects attitude and behavior?
Self-efficacy is how a person perceives his or her self-ability. It explains why people that have similar skills have different behaviors. It looks, not only at an individual’s perceived knowledge, but also his or her perceived confidence.
When it comes to online privacy, privacy protection requires a high degree of expertise, so perceived confidence is not enough to explain an individual’s behavior.
Twenty two in-depth surveys were conducted in this study, composed of three main sections: targeted advertising and privacy settings, disclosure and online behavior, and online privacy threat. The participants are acquaintances of the researchers’ friends. Preliminary questions aimed to determine the participant’s computer expertise were first asked before the in-depth interview. Participant’s are categorized as novices, semi-experts and experts, based off a criteria that Microsoft employs.
An iterative process was done to identify specific patterns and themes from the interviews. Aside from these, however, unique cases were also an object of interest. The privacy knowledge level of the participants were also coded, or how well they understand technical privacy issues such as browser privacy settings and cookies.
Results and Discussion
The perception and attitude that the participants have towards security threats and online privacy vary based on their computer expertise and knowledge on issues related to privacy. They were willing to give up privacy in exchange for convenience, perceived benefit, and if there’s no other option.
The participants belong to essentially the same age demographic as young adults, but their perceptions and attitudes vary widely. Most of them, excluding the experts, had very little knowledge regarding privacy and sector factors that may harm them.
Results also showed that those who don’t like behavioral targeting still had an appreciation for the targeted ads. Regardless of expertise, each one has pointed out a positive experience or two with behaviorally targeted ads. When an ad hit a person’s interest spot on, that’s when behavioral targeting has the greatest nod of approval.
On the other hand, participants pointed out that more than just relevance, usefulness is also important. In fact, they suggested that targeted relevant ads should not be shown right after they purchase because they don’t have to see it when they already have the product.
Conclusion and Implication
A user’s knowledge regarding privacy is best indicated by one’s expertise in using computers rather than self-efficacy. In addition, novices tend to overestimate their self-efficacy during cases when there’s a knowledge and self-efficacy gap. In that same situation, experts tend to underestimate.
Novices relied heavily on peripheral cues to determine security threats and privacy, whereas experts weren’t as concerned. This study shows that self-efficacy isn’t a strong behavior predictor, although it also suggests looking at specific types of self-efficacy.
The results of this study imply that aside from teaching people how to protect themselves from security issues, more importantly, they should be told about the details. Major brand companies should also maintain the trust that novice consumers trust on them. Smaller brands can incorporate large amounts of peripheral cues, user reviews and security seals.