BOSTON: Consumers hold contradictory views on personalised marketing, rejecting online tracking while indicating they would be happy to share data with advertisers in return for discounts and offers, new research has found.

Communispace, the consumer collaboration agency, engaged 8,343 participants across 52 of its private online communities with a survey and open-ended discussions. A significant majority (86%) said they would click a "do not track" button if it were available, while 30% would even pay 5% extra if it guaranteed none of their information was captured.

While these figures would seem to indicate a high level of hostility to targeted marketing, 70% of respondents also said they would voluntarily share personal data with a company in exchange for a 5% discount.

This suggests that opposition can be bought off relatively cheaply, but a background discontent will remain as consumers were wary of marketing, even if ads were accurately targeted.

Given the choice, just 14% of consumers actively want to shop by receiving targeted offers based on their online search and purchase history, the survey suggested.

Meanwhile, a majority (62%) said they would much prefer to look for promotions and discounts from multiple vendors at one centralized site. And 24% liked the idea of turning the process on its head – broadcasting their shopping needs and inviting retailers to bid for their business.

The report found that the single biggest breach of trust involved the buying and selling of personal data. Just 13% approved of this practice, and even if they had technically granted their consent, consumers expressed extreme distaste for, and occasionally claimed to boycott, companies that engage in these types of practices.

"While people increasingly accept some loss of privacy as a cost of doing business, or a way to earn perks, the majority say they don't appreciate or utilise targeted messages, especially from unfamiliar sources – a far cry from the 'added value' and 'customized experience' these methods promise," said Julie Wittes Schlack, Communispace's SVP of Innovation.

Her colleague Katrina Lerman, a senior researcher, likened it to personal relationships: "You really have to earn that level of intimacy; it can't be bought," she added.

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff