Americans Prefer Free Apps with Ads Poll Finds

Two-thirds of Americans want to control which companies can send ads to their smartphones or collect data about them, according to an advertising industry-sponsored poll released today.

The poll, conducted by Zogby Analytics for the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), also found consumers would prefer free apps with ads over ad-free apps that cost money. Only 8 percent said they'd download all their free apps again if they had to pay for them.

Opt-Out Options

The survey of 1,015 adults comes as the DAA prepares to launch a mobile opt-out program similar to the "Your Ad Choices" campaign it already offers for desktop computer users. According to the poll:

  • 71 percent of participants agreed tools for ads and data should be available anytime they access the Internet
  • 66 percent said the tools should let them pick and choose their advertisers
  • 66 percent want similar controls over ad-related data collection
  • 58 percent preferred free, ad-supported apps over paid applications
  • 65 percent said they were comfortable with receiving ads from companies following the DAA guidelines

In an interview with CMSWire, DAA Executive Director Lou Mastria said the mobile program will be launched later this year, which will put it in the midst of the holiday shopping season. He said 35 million people have already have visited DAA's website to learn more about the desktop program.

"As we move to a mobile environment, we want to assure the groundwork we laid in the desktop environment will play well in the mobile environment," Mastria said. "The experience we enable for consumers at a rate of a trillion times a month globally right now is repeatable, reliable and is premised on giving them choices, given them a heads-up that data is being collected to present relevant ads."


The DAA's efforts at self-regulation are intended to dissuade federal agencies from stepping into the debate over data-collection and advertising practices that are at the heart of emerging personalized marketing technologies.

Earlier this year, at a DAA meeting in San Francisco, the group was urged to press forward with its efforts by Jessica Rich, the director of the consumer affairs office of the Federal Trade Commission. 

"I think is is our job, and we've taken it pretty seriously," said Mastria. "But I think there's always going to be a bit of healthy tension between the self-regulating community and regulators. That's OK."

New Technologies

Companies like Adobe, Oracle, Sitecore, and others are creating marketing clouds designed to send personalized promotions to consumers as a way of guiding them to making a purchase.

DAA's program invites advertisers to commit to a set of principles and to display the DAA icon in their ads. Consumers who click on the icon or visit can choose to block ads from the alliance members and can also set limits on data collection.

DAA was formed six years ago with support of major advertising agencies and groups such as the Direct Marketing Association, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Association of National Advertisers, American Advertising Federation, Network Advertising Initiative and Interactive Advertising Bureau. The Better Business Bureau helps to enforce the program.

Title image by Garry Knight  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.