Providing support for the self-regulation regime, two recent studies found that privacy icons are effective, with low percentages of respondents choosing to opt out of targeted ads when given the choice and responding favorably to brands that offer more control.

A study conducted by Better Advertising and Dynamic Logic analyzed reactions to the Digital Advertising Alliance’s icon and found that 67 percent of respondents preferred brands that gave them more control.

Of the 1,600 people who were tested, 57 percent felt more positive towards the brands that informed them how they were being targeted, and 67 percent indicated they felt better about brands when given more “control”(like the ability to opt out). One in twenty who clicked on the icon chose the opt-out option, and the study also found that exposure to the ad notice reduced serious privacy concerns by 30 percent.

In a second study by TRUSTe and Publishers Clearing House, just 1.1 percent of respondents chose to opt out of all advertising networks when given the choice. TRUSTe placed icons near ads on Publishers Clearing House’s Web site,, over a six-month period.

When users clicked the icon, they saw a pop-up window that provided information about Interest-based ads and advertising networks. The window also allowed users to set their preferences to opt out of Interest-based ads, and to provide feedback to TRUSTe about the process.

Of the approximately 20 million consumers (with 7 million unique visitors), 56,000 users (and 44,000 unique viewers) clicked on the icon. The survey found that just 1.1 percent decided to opt out of all advertising networks, while more than half said they found the notice helpful. And twice as many clicked through the icon for more information than clicking on the privacy policy itself.

To read the results of the DAA icon study, click here.

To read the results of the TRUSTe study, click here.

Why it matters: These studies provide valuable support for the advertising industry’s ability to self-regulate using the new privacy icons to inform consumers about their data-collection practices and privacy policies.