Pedro Giovanni Leon, Justin Cranshaw, Lorrie Faith Cranor, Jim Graves, Manoj Hastak, Blase Ur and Guzi Xu, What Do Online Behavioral Advertising Disclosures Communicate to Users?
Comment by: Mary Culnan
Workshop draft abstract:
In this paper we present the results of a large online user study that
evaluates the industry-promoted mechanism designed to empower users to manage their online behavioral advertising privacy preferences. 700 [we expect about 1200] participants were presented with simulated behavioral advertisements in the context of a simulated and controlled web-browsing session. Subjects were divided into conditions to test two online behavioral advertisement disclosure icons, seven taglines (including no tagline), and five opt-out landing pages. Following this simulation, we surveyed the users about their understanding and perception of the OBA notification elements that they saw. Our [preliminary] results show that users often do not notice the icons or taglines, and that the industry-promoted tagline does a poor job of communicating with users. On the other hand, users found many of the opt-out landing pages to be informative and understandable.
Our results show various levels of effectiveness of disclosure taglines across three dimensions: clickability, notice, and choice. We found that only out about a quarter of participants ever recalled having seen the taglines, and that no tagline was effective at communicating all three concepts to users. We also found that “AdChoices,” the current tagline promoted by industry groups, was among the least communicative of the taglines we tested. Conversely we found that the tagline “Why did I get this ad?” which has recently been adopted by the Google AdSense Network, performed well at communicating clickability and notice. Our work suggests that taglines that suggest an action are more effective at conveying the clickability of the link, which is a critical aspect of the disclosure, allowing users to seek more information or configure their OBA preferences. Furthermore, although none of the symbols was particularly effective at providing notice and choice, we found that the symbols are important at communicating clickability. In particular, the poweri symbol better conveyed clickability than the asterisk man symbol.
We tested the opt-out landing pages provided by AOL, Yahoo!,
Microsoft, Goolge, and Monster [and may test a few more]. All but the Monster Career Ad Network were perceived as informative and
understandable. AOL and Microsoft opt-out pages were shown to be more effective at encouraging users to opt out.