Finishing up our series on online privacy, today we look at the numbers who are taking direct measures to safeguard their privacy, deploying Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and deleting cookies.

VPNs are often considered important tools for securing internet and browsing freedom, with some using these tools to challenge attempts by governments to track or restrict their online activities. Almost a third of VPN Users say they use these tools to keep their anonymity while browsing online.

VPN usage is a trend that is centered around fast-growth markets. While bypassing geo-restrictions on content is the main driving factor for VPN usage, significant numbers of consumers are turning to VPNs to protect their privacy. For marketers, the geographical pattern here has implications for audience measurement: VPN users are highly likely to be incorrectly geo-located by passive analytics, which can seriously skew website analytics.

Cookie deletion, on the other hand, poses more problems for marketers, specifically in the realms of targeting, measurement and personalization. Unlike VPN usage, this behavior is not confined to the fast-growth regions, with North America in the lead (49%).

Ultimately, these two behaviors cause consumers to become ‘invisible’ and effect the ability to customize the end-user experience and display relevant ads. With many people choosing to block ads due to irrelevant or intrusive content, it’s clear that the advertising industry needs to do more to convince internet users about the benefits and trade-offs involved in online behavior tracking and targeting which, in an ideal world, will lead to better personalization and relevancy.


Written by

Katie is a Strategic Insights Manager at GWI. Moving to the company 4 years ago, Katie heads up the Strategic Insights team, overseeing the production of bespoke assets for clients. Katie also writes on GWI's blog, with a particular interest in social media and marketing.

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