Study: US consumers think their personal data is worth only $244 per year
The survey of US and UK consumers found considerable confusion and ambivalence about the collection and use of personal data by marketers.
US consumers are probably undervaluing their data. Asked in a recent survey by LoopMe, “What financial value would you put on your anonymous data per year?” respondents answered $244. A parallel survey in the UK found a somewhat higher number: £254.58 ($340).
The survey sought to assess consumer attitudes toward data privacy, security and use in advertising. Asked what kinds of data were being collected on them, people said the following:
- Personal — 73 percent
- Demographic — 63 percent
- Location — 56 percent
- Financial — 43 percent
- Behavioral — 40 percent
Most people (62 percent) were unaware that data being collected was “encrypted and non-PII identifiable.” Their greatest concerns were around security and unauthorized uses of the data:
- That it is stored unsafely and vulnerable to hacks.
- That it will be sold without my permission.
- That it will be used by criminal organizations.
- That I can be personally identified.
Asked about beneficial or productive uses of their data, people selected the following options:
- Saving costs such as using your location for relevant offers and deals — 33 percent.
- I don’t know — 30 percent.
- More relevant product offers which are suited to your needs — 30 percent.
- Bringing more relevant online experiences — 21 percent.
- Improving infrastructure like easing traffic — 18 percent.
- Broader worldwide initiatives like speeding up Cancer detection — 17 percent.
- Better financial services — 16 percent.
Respondents were asked if they were comfortable with the use of their data “if it keeps online sites free + cannot be linked back to you.” The answer is a half-full, half-empty scenario. The survey authors presented the result as “widespread [consumer] acceptance” of use of their data. But here are the numbers:
- Very happy/quite happy — 48 percent.
- Not that happy/not happy at all — 37 percent.
- Don’t know — 14 percent.
The US audience (56 percent) was more accepting of personal data usage than the UK audience (40 percent). Yet the survey question is worded in such a way as to obtain a “positive” result — “if it keeps online sites free + cannot be linked back to you.” If more neutrally presented, without the upbeat qualifier, I suspect it would have yielded a negative outcome: more unhappy or ambivalent people than happy people.
US consumers broadly agreed (72 percent) that “brands should use anonymous data to show more relevant and interesting ads.” The response in the UK survey was quite different; only 43 percent agreed with the statement. This finding reflects fairly significant attitudinal differences between US and European consumers toward data privacy and advertising.
The value placed on the use of data, mentioned at the outset, was based on graduated prompts: “$0 – $50, $51 – $100” and so on to “over $500.” I’m very surprised that most people didn’t pick “over $500.”