Deciding on Personalized Ads: Nudging Developers About User Privacy (SOUPS ’21)

Mobile advertising networks present personalized advertisements to developers as a way to increase revenue. These types of ads use data about users to select potentially more relevant content. However, choice framing also impacts app developers’ decisions which in turn impacts their users’ privacy. Currently, ad networks provide choices in developer-facing dashboards that control the types of information collected by the ad network as well as how users will be asked for consent. Framing and nudging have been shown to impact users’ choices about privacy, we anticipate that they have a similar impact on choices made by developers. We conducted a survey-based online experiment with 400 participants with experience in mobile app development. Across six conditions, we varied the choice framing of options around ad personalization. Participants in the condition where privacy consequences of ads personalization are highlighted in the options are significantly (11.06 times) more likely to choose non-personalized ads compared to participants in the Control condition with no information about privacy. Participants’ choice of ad type is driven by impact on revenue, user privacy, and relevance to users. Our findings suggest that developers are impacted by interfaces and need transparent options.

Mohammad Tahaei, Alisa Frik, and Kami Vaniea. Deciding on Personalized Ads: Nudging Developers About User Privacy. In Proceedings of the 17th Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS ’21). USENIX Assoc., Berkeley, CA, USA. 2021.

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