Australians find ads on social media too personal and creepy

By AdNews | 20 March 2024
Credit: Free Walking Tour Salzburg via Unsplash

Nearly half (46%) of Australians find personalised ads on social media creepy or too personal, according to a study by The Trade Desk, Not all time online is equal.

And about half believe social media ads are “listening” to them.

The Trade Desk Intelligence surveyed 2,002 Australian consumers in late 2023 on their online media habits, attitudes and experiences.

The global technology platform for buyers of advertising is outpacing the media industry for growth. The Trade Desk grew revenue 23% to $US1.95 billion in the December quarter with a record $9.6 billion of spend flowing through its global technology platform for buyers of advertising.

The latest analysis confirms previous studies. The Cheetah Digital and Econsultancy survey in 2020 in the US, UK, Australia, Spain, France and Japan found about two-thirds felt that ads that follow them across devices are creepy. In the US, it was more than half.

The Trade Desk's survey found that the majority of Australian advertising budgets are invested in online platforms where consumers are the least actively engaged. 

“Time is the most precious commodity we have, and Australians are becoming more intentional about where they spend it online,” said James Bayes, vice president ANZ, The Trade Desk.

“It’s these intentional spaces on the open internet that advertisers can forge meaningful consumer engagements. This is where Aussies are more engaged and far more likely to trust the ads they see.”

Gen Zs are the most allergic to the cookie landscape with a preference for the open internet with 37% of them saying their use of the open internet has increased over the past 12 months. 

But only one-third of ad budgets go to these platforms despite Australians now spending two-thirds of their online time on the open internet.

The report has also found that Gen Zs are becoming more trusting and receptive to ads in digital environments where they have “logged in” as opposed to the cookie framework which has overrun the internet in recent decades. 

In fact, 61% of Australians are comfortable letting companies access their anonymised data in exchange for free content, or more relevant content or experiences - a trade-off that revolves around logging in. 

More than a third (37%) of 18-34 year-olds say their use of the open internet has increased, while another 32% expect it to increase further. 

Among the same cohort, there was a nearly 50% increase in time spent on podcasts and music streaming and a 36% uptick for BVOD. Additionally, time spent on online games saw a 42%rise.

“Advertisers who focus solely on walled gardens (social media) due to their sheer size are missing out on the broader spectrum of consumer behaviour,” said Bayes at The Trade Desk.

“It’s crucial for advertisers to diversify their advertising strategies. The open internet is home to fast-growing platforms such as BVOD and digital audio, and it provides opportunities for more meaningful connections, offering greater precision to reach Aussies where they are most engaged.” 

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