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New eyeo research reveals leading privacy concerns of telco subscribers

When mobile browsing online, telco customers are passionate about privacy, but also recognize the role of advertising

New research by eyeo has found that telco subscribers worry about privacy when using their phones to browse the internet, with 85% being at least moderately concerned. These concerns include the presence of tracking cookies and intrusive adverts. For eyeo, this underlines the need for a more balanced experience for mobile internet users, which preserves privacy while allowing sensible advertising. Given the popularity of mobile browsing, telcos have a leading role to play in delivering this.

Key findings:

  • 85% of telco subscribers are moderately concerned, very concerned or extremely concerned about privacy when browsing online on their phones

  • 50% have used an ad blocker in the last month to stop ads being displayed while browsing 

  • 48% find it annoying when an advert “follows” them around the internet – advertising should be non-intrusive

  • 39% find cookie consent requests annoying while 22% feel violated by them, highlighting the need for a better user experience

  • However, 35% also happily accept cookies as a part of the browsing experience

  • 84% believe companies should pay them for their data, while 69% are happy to see some ads if it means having access to free news

For the research, eyeo surveyed over 2,500 global internet users and telco subscribers, to gain a better understanding of their attitudes towards privacy. This passion for privacy is highlighted by the fact that 50% have used an ad blocker to prevent the display of adverts in the last month, and that 48% find it annoying when an advert for a particular product “follows” them around the internet.

There are similar concerns around cookies. 39% find cookie consent requests annoying, while 22% feel their privacy has been violated when they see a consent form. 

Alec Gramont, Senior Director of Telecom Partnerships at eyeo, said: “Mobile browsing is now the dominant way to access websites, with 68% of global site visits in 2020 coming from mobile devices. It’s important, therefore, to recognize that the challenges facing internet users are highly relevant to telco companies too. Mobile browsing is popular and convenient, but not without its issues.

“There’s clearly some scepticism towards advertising and cookies among mobile internet users and telco subscribers, particularly when they feel ads or cookie consent requests are overly intrusive or disruptive to their user experience. Telcos and the partners they work with should bear this in mind when deciding how best to monetize their offerings.”

The good news, however, is that there are also clear signs that users will accept cookies and advertising if there is an acceptable trade-off – such as free content or the maintenance of privacy. 35% happily recognize the presence of cookies as an established part of the browsing experience, while 69% are happy to see some adverts if it means having access to free news. Interestingly, 84% say that companies should pay them to gain access to their data.

Gramont added: “These stats all point to a need for balance. When browsing online, telco subscribers don’t see ads and cookies purely in binary terms, where they either like all ads and are happy to see them, or they hate all ads and want to eliminate them from their browser experience entirely.

“In truth, things are much more nuanced. Users want to feel empowered and in control of their browsing experience, but they’re also acutely aware of the necessity of ads and cookies in a fair and prosperous internet.

“This is where technology such as ad filtering can be instrumental in achieving this balance. Rather than blocking all ads, this tech allows respectful, noninvasive ads to appear on web pages, while hiding the annoying and intrusive ones – think pop-ups, animated ads or ones that overlay a page.”

He concluded: “Telcos looking to diversify their offerings have plenty to think about when it comes to user privacy. However, we hope that armed with this data, there are fewer reasons to be daunted by the challenges ahead.”

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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