SYDNEY: Consumers in Australia dislike targeted advertising on social media, a new survey has found, but are open to engaging with brands if given the option.

The Digital Communities issue of the Mind & Mood report from Ipsos Australia discovered that almost half of those polled either didn't like such advertising or consciously ignored it.

"You'd be hard pressed to find anyone say something positive about the practice," Laura Demasi, research director for The Mind & Mood report, told B&T.

Women over 40 were particularly aggrieved at the "crudely stereotypical advertising" directed at them, citing ads for senior dating sites or products based on their supposed looks.

Such advertising was described as "rude", and more generally, those taking part in the survey felt targeted ads were "creepy", "horrifying" and reminiscent of Big Brother.

But the survey also found that consumers were quite willing to connect with brands on social media as long as it was their decision to do so.

"Giving people a choice to engage with you is incredibly powerful," said Demasi. "They have some sense of ownership, they feel like they're getting something out of it, and they like you for it."

One powerful way of encouraging such engagement is the offer of free items or discounts. Some 49% of people felt more connected to brands that offered discounts, and that figure was much higher for women, at 58%, than men, at 36%.

A separate survey in this area recently found that four fifths of Australian social media users had connected with a brand via this channel, but almost half had subsequently reversed this decision, the main reason being that they were being spammed by the brand in question.

Data sourced from B&T; additional content by Warc staff