'Will Trade My Info for Better Ads'
According to a new survey that Q Interactive ran with 1,800 Coolsavings.com visitors, a majority of users across major demographic segments are interested in the deal. Asked if they would prefer "to receive free online services and information in exchange for the use of my data to target relevant advertising to me," 53.6% of Boomer-aged 45-to-55-year-olds agreed, and 63.2% of 1-to-24-year-olds agreed.
"I expected there to be more of an age skew," says Matt Wise, president and CEO, Q Interactive. "I didn't expect the older crowd to be so accepting of the value transition." Wise believes the findings bode well for the industry's ongoing efforts to educate consumers about the value proposition for behavioral and other forms of ad targeting. "We in the industry, especially at the IAB, talk about how to educate the consumer on the value transfer. Fifty percent already understand it."
Consumers themselves claim that relevance is the thing that attracts them most to an ad. The survey found 44.4% saying an ad captures their attention when it involves a product they need, and another 20.6% simply pay attention because they like the brand already. On the other hand, only 8.1% say the ads they see now are "very relevant" to their lives and interests, with 30.4% claiming they are "somewhat relevant." Wise thinks there is an opportunity there for marketers to make the case with consumers that trading some of their information for targeted ads will improve the online ad experience. But he admits "this is the most challenging piece. The challenge is where you can do that. It is rare where it is obvious, maybe 10% or 20% of the time when the consumer benefit is obvious and you can take advantage of that," he says.
While the Q Interactive survey does suggest users agree overall with the proposition that personal information of some kind is a fair trade for free content and relevant ads, they continue to put the brakes on hard when asked which specific information they are willing to hand over. The survey found 77.8% willing to give zip code, 64.9% their age and 72.3% their gender, but only 22.4% said they wanted to share the Web sites they visited and only 12% and 12.1% were willing to have their online purchases or the search history respectively to be shared. Marketers and publishers may still have their work cut out for them when it comes to clarifying the level of data they need to target accurately -- along with the meaning of anonymized data.
One very interesting attitudinal divide across ages does involve ad effectiveness. When asked "What captures your interest in an online ad?" only 18.5% of the 45-54 segment cited brand or store that they liked, but 38.6% of the 18-34 segment did. Conversely, only 23.9% of the college-aged respondents cited their need for a product as a trigger for noticing an ad, but 46.5% of the 45-54 group did. While privacy sensitivity may not be as age-specific as we once thought, brand sensitivity sure is.