Over half of UK consumers are happy to see online advertising because it supports services and content at little or no cost

A report by IAB UK and ValueClick reveals that the vast majority of UK consumers want some aspect of control or more information about how companies use consumer information to serve online advertising.

Nearly half (45%) of UK consumers would like to control the type of advertising they see online and 40% want easy access to the information being shared about them. Just over one third (36%) wanted information about who was showing them a particular ad.

Only one in 10 people willing to pay for websites

However, the majority of UK consumers do recognise the benefits advertising brings; 61% expect a large portion of the internet would "disappear" without advertising, while 52% are happy to see online advertising because it supports online services and content at little or no cost.

Only one in 10 people would be willing to pay for websites and online services they currently use for free if those services removed advertising.

The majority of people are in favour of personalised or more relevant advertising online - 55% said they would rather see online advertising relevant to their interests. Six in 10 (59%) would rather see a lower number of relevant ads online than a higher number of less relevant ones.

Nick Stringer, director of regulatory affairs at the IAB UK, says: "This research shows the balance that the industry needs to strike: providing clear and transparent information and control to empower consumers and help them safeguard their privacy, whilst enabling relevant advertising to help fund the quality content and services that they demand. Businesses across Europe are rolling out a new icon in online ads to enable this. Backed by a campaign to explain how online advertising works and what the icon means, this study will help inform our communication."

Carl White, CEO ValueClick Europe, comments: "Businesses and brands must begin to engage consumers in an open and transparent dialogue about how and why they see advertising online. This study shows that people are more receptive and open-minded about online advertising than is often reported, but they are also wary and understandably confused about the mechanics of digital marketing and privacy. It is up to us as an industry to communicate how online advertising works and the benefits it delivers more effectively."