The University of Minnesota, the University of California, Irvine, and Carnegie Mellon University conducted one of the first empirical studies on how behaviourally target advertising affected the revenue of publishers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The study was based on millions of advertising transactions at an unnamed large American media company in the space of a week.
The newspaper said the small gain was in sharp contrast to the amounts that publishers were willing to pay for ads that were targeted based on behaviour.
The premium that was charged was probably being taken by what was known as the ad tech tax, fees that are levied by middlemen and consume about 60% of what is spent on such ads, the WSJ quoted marketing intelligence firm Ware as saying.
The study comes as concern grows over the quantity of consumers' data that is sucked up by companies like Google and Facebook and used to target ads specifically at individuals or specific demographics.
Australia's competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is set to release a report into digital platforms by the end of June, looking at how such platforms have affected the media industry in the country.