Most don’t want microtargeted political ads: Gallup


Most Americans say they don’t want political campaigns to microtarget them through digital ads, according to a poll released Monday.

That view is shared among Democrats, Republicans and independents based on the Gallup poll conducted in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Seventy-two percent of those surveyed said internet companies should share no information about its users to political campaigns to target certain voters with digital ads. The view is shared by 69 percent of those who identify as Democrats, 75 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents. 

Twenty percent of those polled said that they thought limited information, such as a person’s gender, age or zip code, should be allowed to be shared. 

Just 7 percent of those surveyed said any available information, including specific information on a person’s interests, frequently visited websites and searched topics, should be shared, based on the poll.

Despite the limited support, such tactics are in line with policies at companies like Facebook, which has not put any limits in place on ad targeting. 

The majority of Americans polled, 59 percent, also said that websites should show political ads but said the companies should disclose who paid for the ad, how much it cost and whom the ad is aimed at, based on the poll. 

The same poll found 20 percent of Americans said no campaign ads should be shown on any website, in line with the policy that was recently adopted by Twitter, and another 4 percent said sites should not show politics ads in the final month of an election campaign. 

Sixteen percent of Americans said campaign ads should not be regulated because they are a form of free speech, based on the poll. 

The majority of respondents also said, to varying degrees, that websites should ban misleading content in political ads. Eighty-one percent said websites should refuse to run ads that target supporters of an opposing candidate or cause that provides them with the wrong election date, based on the poll. 

Sixty-two percent said websites should refuse to run ads that say a politician voted for a policy they did not vote for, based on the poll.

Asked about ads that misrepresent a candidate’s position on an issue by providing some accurate facts but leaving out others, surveyed Americans had a more of a mixed response.

Forty percent said such ads should run but sites should warn users it may contain false information, another 45 percent said the sites should refuse to run such ads altogether, based on the poll. 

The survey was conducted between Dec. 3-15 with a random sample of 1,628 adults. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

Tags Campaign advertising Facebook Gallup Marketing online advertising S. and James L. Knight Foundation Targeted advertising Twitter

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