About two-thirds (68%) of internet users disapprove of search engines and websites tracking their online behavior in order to aim targeted ads at them. These users say they disapprove of targeted advertising because they do not like having their online behavior tracked and analyzed. Some 28% of those surveyed say 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 dislikes 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 these groups, almost six in ten say they do not like targeted ads.

The groups most likely to report noticing targeted advertising online are men, white internet users, those under the age of 65, those who have been to college and those in higher income households. Three-quarters (73%) of college graduates say they have noticed online ads related to items they recently searched for or sites they recently visited. This figure is significantly lower for online adults with lower educational attainment levels. Likewise, online adults in households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more are also especially likely (69%) to notice such ads. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.