Survey Measures Consumer Willingness to Divulge Personal Data for Personalized Content
According to the ChoiceStream Personalization Survey, which surveyed 673 U.S. residents via the Web, 87 percent of 18-to 24-year-olds expressed an interest in some type of personalized content. However, that number dropped over ten points when it came to 35-to 49-year-olds, 76 percent of whom said they'd be interested in personalized content.
When it comes to giving up personal information in exchange for that content, however, people on the whole become more hesitant. For instance, 64 percent of participants would supply information about personal preferences and interests if it meant receiving personalized content. The younger generation of 18-to 34-year-olds, 71 percent of whom would exchange preference data for custom content, were more willing than their older counterparts to do so. Of those 35 and up, 57 percent said they'd give such information in order to access personalized content.
Content providers "have to be sensitive to information limits on what people are going to be wiling to give," cautioned Doug Feick, senior vice president of corporate development at ChoiceStream. "Some don't necessarily want to have their age and gender divulged."
Demographic data, like gender and age, was more of a barrier. On average, 56 percent of study participants said they were willing to supply demographic data in exchange for personalized content. Younger respondents were more likely to do so, 63 percent of 18-to 34-year-olds studied said they would. Yet, of the 35 and older set measured, 49 percent would reveal demographic information to get personalized content.
Eric Peterson, site operations and technology analyst at JupiterResearch observed, "A form is just an impediment that can be easily beaten...especially by the younger set," who are often Web savvy enough to rush through online forms, not necessarily providing truthful data. "The onus is on content providers to structure personal questions in such a way that they really have to be thought about in order to provide information."
Although online site registrations are becoming more and more prevalent, many Web sites and third party technology firms rely on actual Internet interactions like clicks and purchases to determine which content is best suited for particular consumers. Study respondents were asked whether they would allow Web sites to track their clicks and purchases in exchange for personalized content, and the shields went up higher. Overall, 40 percent would agree to interaction or behavioral tracking. Of younger respondents 18-to 34-years-old, 47 percent would agree to tracking in exchange for personalized content; only 32 percent of the 35 plus crowd said the same.
"As people age," noted Jupiter's Peterson, "they get more concerned about the kinds of things they do and the kinds of information they're willing to provide."
Survey respondents also differed in terms of what types of personalized content they preferred. Younger ones wanted personalized music recommendations (45 percent), DVDs (29 percent) and books (26 percent). Of those 50 and over, 35 percent expressed interest in receiving personalized Web search results, 30 percent wanted personalized info on books, 22 percent on news and 21 percent on travel.
The study also asked people how long they'd be willing to spend responding online to questions about themselves and their preferences. Over 55 percent said they'd spend at least two minutes doing so, and 21 percent would spend at least six minutes. Compared to 16 percent of male respondents, 24 percent of women participants would spend at least six minutes filling out an online questionnaire.
The more information content providers ask of consumers, the less likely they're willing to provide that information, Jupiter's Peterson said. "It must be in exchange for something of extremely high value.... Unfortunately, we more commonly see examples of companies asking too much and providing too little."