A new study found that public awareness of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory program remains low, although it rose over last year.

In its 2012 U.S. Online and Mobile Privacy Perceptions Report, TRUSTe found that just 14% of consumers are aware of the industry’s ad choices program and the accompanying icon, an improvement over just 5% awareness last year. A total of 94% of those surveyed said they consider privacy an important issue.

The study found that 60% of consumers are more concerned this year than last about privacy, and an increasing number (83%, up from 70% the year before) are aware of behaviorally targeted advertising. Of those who are aware of targeted ads, 58% said they don’t like it.

But consumers are also taking action to protect their privacy, according to the study results. A total of 85% of smartphone users reported they won’t download mobile apps they do not trust, while 49% said they check for independent privacy certification or seals, an increase of over 41% in 2011. And 61% are inclined to do more business with a site that allows them to opt out of being tracked, the study found.

Negative feelings about online behavioral advertising decreased – from 69% to 40% – when those surveyed were assured that their personally identifiable information is not linked to their browsing behavior.

“Our 2012 findings show that managing consumer concerns through good privacy practices must remain on the forefront in order to stem mistrust,” Chris Babel, TRUSTe CEO, said in a statement. “With increased understanding about choices, the survey also shows that consumers react more positively to the potential value of new online technologies, such as [online behavioral advertising].”

To read the TRUSTe study, click here.

Why it matters: The results of the study confirm that consumers are concerned about privacy and taking affirmative steps to protect their information. For example, 35% of respondents said they stopped doing business with a company or using its Web site because of privacy concerns, and 90% said they use browser controls to protect their privacy, including deleting cookies.