Online Behavioral Targeting: Are Knowledgeable Consumers Willing to Sell Their Privacy?

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Journal of Consumer Policy


Unbeknownst to many online consumers, their personal information is being traded on a flourishing and rapidly increasing market for privacy data. In a process often labeled online behavioral targeting (OBT), data mining companies and online brokers collect, analyze, buy, and sell consumers' personal data in an effort to enable online and offline marketers to deliver personalized, highly relevant, and ultimately profitable advertisements. For the most part, consumers have not yet been afforded the opportunity to meaningfully participate in this market for privacy data. The purpose of this article is to explore more deeply the impact of knowledge on consumers' potential willingness to keep versus trade their private information. Using survey data methodology, we find that those consumers who are more knowledgeable about OBT are willing to pay more for keeping their data private and, at the same time, are willing to sell their data for less money than less informed consumers.


Consumer privacy; Online behavioral targeting; Online behavioral advertising; New media; Big data; Ethics


Business | Other Business



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