NEW YORK: Consumers generally find it acceptable to be targeted with mobile ads based on their interests but not the use keywords in their personal communications, says a new report.

A study from consulting firm PwC – Mobile advertising: What do consumers want? A cross-country comparison – surveyed 3,800 respondents in Brazil, China, the UK and the US regarding mobile advertising preferences.

It found that consumer views on this subject were most aligned between the UK and the US and between Brazil and China, but across all territories they preferred their interests were used as targeting criteria.

This view was especially clear in Brazil and China where 74% and 76% respectively said this was OK, but the UK and US were more reluctant with just 54% in each finding it acceptable.

Similarly, at the other end of the scale, consumers in the UK and US were adamant that it was unacceptable to use keywords – only between 1% and 3% ever thought it was acceptable – while those in China and Brazil, while still opposed, were less vehement, with between 12% and 16% rejecting their use.

Use of such techniques, PwC warned, ran the highest risk of having a negative effect on brand attitudes.

In fact, when it came to mobile advertising a majority of consumers in the UK (52%) and US (56%) said they would rather not be contacted at all. US focus group respondents explained that they found mobile ads to be annoying and to distract them from whatever else they were trying to do on their mobile device.

In contrast a significant proportion of consumers in Brazil (44%) and China (47%) expressed a preference for being targeted with mobile advertising on a daily basis.

Overall, Brazil and China were found to have more fully integrated mobile activities into their daily lives, as compared to the US and the UK. Brazil's consumers ranked as the most actively engaged in general mobile activity of any country surveyed, though China was found to be more likely to purchase merchandise from a website as well as download/stream TV shows compared to the other countries.

"There are distinct cultural mobile advertising preferences that companies need to consider as they target individual consumers in difference countries," said Deborah Bothun, US advisory entertainment, media and communications leader, PwC.

"Those who heed the differences, leveraging big and small data to deliver the most relevant, useful mobile advertisements will be better poised to get results in those markets," she added.

Data sourced from PwC; additional content by Warc staff