Do people know their personal email messages can be scanned to target them with online ads? A “Roper Poll” commissioned by Microsoft found that they don’t. In fact, 70% of those surveyed were unaware that email service providers can scan their emails in order to target them with ads, and nearly 9 in 10 Americans, or 88% indicated that they disapprove of this practice. Additional information regarding the study is available below, including a link to the full survey results.
Majority of Americans Strongly Disapprove of the Practice of Scanning Emails to Target Online Advertisements – According to a New “Roper Poll” from GfK
Large majority unaware whether any major email service providers scan personal emails to target ads
Redmond, Wash.— A study, commissioned by Microsoft, found nearly 9 in 10 Americans (88%) disapprove of email service providers scanning personal emails in order to target online advertisements. In addition, the survey, which was commissioned by Microsoft to clarify the extent to which the public understands and approves of practices related to scanning of words in emails, showed that 89% of Americans do not think email service providers should be allowed to scan the content of personal emails to target online ads. This telephone study was conducted by the global independent market research company GfK, from February 1st through 4th, 2013, among 1,006 Americans ages 18 and older from across the US.
The research also indicated that 70% of Americans are unaware of this practice, as 52% do not believe that any major email service providers scan the content of emails to target ads and 18% don’t know whether this practice occurs. Further, 65% of email users were also unaware of any email service provider scanning emails for this purpose. Nearly nine in ten (88%) email users - agreed that they should have the option to “opt-out” of having their emails scanned for the purpose of delivering relevant ads.
Annie Weber, Executive Vice President of GfK’s Public Affairs & Corporate Communications division said that “the polling indicates – on the face of it – that many Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of email service providers scanning words in emails for the purpose of targeting advertising to people. At a time when digital privacy is increasingly concerning the public, this survey suggests that more work needs to be done to make sure email users understand the specifics of how their personal content is being used, and both the benefits and drawbacks of these practices.”
Links to the full survey can be found here.
Key results from this survey include: • 88% of Americans disapprove of email service providers scanning the content of your personal emails in order to target ads and 52% disapprove strongly.• 89% of Americans agree that email service providers should not be allowed to scan the content of personal emails in order to target ads. • 83% of Americans agree that email service providers scanning the content of your personal emails to target ads is an invasion of privacy.• 70% of Americans didn’t believe or didn’t know whether any major email service provider scan the content of personal emails in order to target ads.• 88% of email users believe that email service providers should allow users to “opt-out” if they prefer that the content of their emails not be scanned in order to target ads.
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About this study: The RDD telephone survey was conducted Feb. 1-4, 2013 by GfK’s Public Affairs & Corporate Communications division, among a nationally-representative sample of 1,006 adults ages 18 or older. Interviews were conducted with 753 respondents on landlines and 253 respondents on cellular telephones. The data were weighted on age, sex, education, race and geographic region. The margin of error on results based on the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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GfK’s Public Affairs & Corporate Communications division specializes in customized public affairs and public opinion polling, communications research, and reputation measurement in the US and globally. The division also serves as the official polling partner of the Associated Press conducting the AP-GfK Poll
For further information about GfK, visit our website: www.gfk.com/us.