Research is to be done by an independent body into the online advertising market and its impact on consumers.

The Office of Fair Trading will be looking into how online marketing and pricing practices affect customers, as well as the use of personal data in campaigns focusing particularly on information taken from observance of users’ online activities.

Aimed at encouraging an industry code of practice and any voluntary action on the part of firms as a result of the work, the market study could lead to recommendations being made by the COI to sector regulators or the government.

Senior director of the OFT’s consumer market group Heather Clayton has asked for consumer groups, businesses and organisations to suggest areas to focus on.

"The way that businesses advertise and price goods and services constantly evolves and we need to keep up to date on how consumers view these adverts," she said.

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