TORONTO: A third (33%) of Canadians are "comfortable" with interest-based online advertising as long as the advertiser is transparent and there is an opt-out option, a recent nationwide survey has found.

The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) and research firm BrandSpark International questioned almost 9,500 Canadian consumers between November and December 2014.

As well as revealing that a full 80% are aware that specific online advertising may be sent to them based on their browsing history, the research discovered that consumers aware of the Ad Choices Program icon are more likely to be receptive.

Canada's Ad Choices Program was launched in September 2013 and provides a link for consumers to seek out information and find out ways of opting out of online ads if they want to.

When consumers are aware of the icon, their comfort level about having their browsing history collected increases by 10%, the research found. It also revealed they are more open to personal recommendations and discounts.

When asked if they "appreciate personalised recommendations made by online shopping sites based on my past purchases", just 29% of those who have not seen the icon agree. But this rises to 40% among those who aware of it.

Consumers are much more open to receiving discounts without being aware of the icon (52%), but the proportion does rise slightly to 56% when they are made aware.

Elsewhere, only about a fifth (18%) of consumers would pay for online content in order to avoid viewing ads that appear with free online content. But men (22%) are more likely to be interested in this option than women (14%).

While over half of consumers welcome receiving discounts, younger generations are moderately more enthusiastic (58% of 18-24s versus 47% of those aged 65+).

The CMA said the findings should give advertisers more confidence in the Ad Choices Program and it argues that if more brands get involved then consumer confidence will improve and their openness to interest-based advertising will increase.

Data sourced from CMA; additional content by Warc staff