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Survey: 64 Percent Want Gov’t To Regulate Advertiser Data Use
Marketers must take consumer privacy concerns more seriously.
A few years ago Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued that privacy standards in the US were relaxing. It’s perhaps more accurate to say that people haven’t lost interest in privacy; they’re just resigned to a loss of control over their personal information.
That’s according to a new survey based report from the Pew Research Center. The survey was conducted in January of this year among 607 US adults. The following chart from Pew shows how secure consumers feel in using various technologies.
Note that they feel least secure using social media sites, among the various choices offered. This flies directly in the face of all the rhetoric about content and advertising personalization.
Source: Pew Internet Project
Survey respondents expressed serious concern over NSA-style government surveillance but also about advertiser access to and use of their data and online behaviors for marketing purposes. I’m going to exclude the strictly government-related findings and just focus on the ad and marketing-related data.
Here are the top-level findings verbatim from the report:
- 91 percent of adults in the survey “agree” or “strongly agree” that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies
- 80 percent of those who use social networking sites say they are concerned about third parties like advertisers or businesses accessing the data they share on these sites
- 64 percent believe the government should do more to regulate advertisers, compared with 34 percent who think the government should not get more involved
- 61 percent of adults “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with the statement: “I appreciate that online services are more efficient because of the increased access they have to my personal data.”
- At the same time, 55 percent “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement: “I am willing to share some information about myself with companies in order to use online services for free”
Below is another Pew chart that shows the level of consumer sensitivity for various categories of information:
Source: Pew Internet Project
Many in the leadership of the prominent marketing trade groups have historically dismissed consumer survey data like this and argued that self-regulation is sufficient and working. However AdChoices, as one example, has been an almost complete failure from a consumer awareness standpoint — though perhaps it has held off the FTC.
This is a dangerous time for online marketers. The press have connected the NSA scandal and ongoing government “surveillance” with online data mining and targeting. Consumers are clearly spooked and concerned by the perceived loss of control over their privacy, as well as the persistent credit-card related hacking.
It’s also fair to say that there are contradictory consumer findings in the market. Many do want personalization and will exchange location information or other personal data for those benefits. But it’s highly contextual and situational.
If they fail to take privacy very seriously they will find themselves confronting new regulations or regulatory intervention that they absolutely do not want.