Sales leads are more likely to prefer targeted online ads when they are asked to make value-for-value trade-offs, a new study reveals.

A survey by PreferenceCentral, which questioned more than 1,000 web users, found that over half of respondents said they prefer relevant targeted online ads as a trade-off for access to free content.

The report found that when educated about behavioural targeting, more than a quarter (29 per cent) of respondents became less comfortable with obtaining free content in exchange for targeted ads.

However, when told that behavioural targeting is anonymous, more than a third (35 per cent) became more comfortable with the technique.

Nevertheless, consumers still have privacy concerns. Almost three-quarters (70 per cent) said they would be interested in a solution that would give them greater control over their exposure to targeted ads and transparency into the data used by advertisers, with 33 per cent saying they are extremely interested in such a tool.

Jules Polonetsky, co-chair and director at the Future of Privacy Forum, said: “When [consumers] get meaningful control, many become more comfortable with data being used to personalise their web surfing.”