a bluff, but millennials say they are determined to take back their digital privacy -- and in the process, reshape the entire ad-based media ecosystem.
That’s according to new findings from Red Peak Youth, a design and brand-consulting firm focused on all things millennial, and the brainchild of former Omnicom Group Vice Chairman Michael Birkin.
“Millennials are more scared about what advertisers know about them than what the government knows about them,” Megan Meagher, strategy director at Red Peak Youth, told attendees of MediaPost’s Social Media Insider Summit, on Thursday.
As such, despite having digital bits in their DNA, millennials are spearheading a broad “turn toward privacy,” Meagher said. “It’s definitely a cause they care about, and feel like they need to get behind.”
Tech savvy as they are, millennials know that companies closely track everything from behavior to buying patterns to social connections. That, in and of itself, has not curtailed this generation’s willingness to use their products, and rely on their platforms to share a great deal about themselves.
Yet recent revelations that companies manipulate user experiences for research purposes appears to have raised suspicions among millennials.
“The fact that sites like Facebook and OKCupid are so unabashed [about manipulating consumer] data … are creating a really harmful relationship,” Meagher said. “That’s only going to alienate millennials more.”
And alienating millennials is not an option for any social networks or advertisers. The group -- made up of roughly 80 million 18-to-34-year-olds, represent 25% of the U.S. population -- and more than $200 billion in annual buying, according to Barkley. They will also soon make up about 70% of the workforce, Meagher noted.
As such, more millennials flying the privacy flag will be “very harmful for Facebook” -- or at least the only revenue-generating part of its business -- according to Meagher.
Other industry executives echoed Meagher’s warnings, on Thursday. “There’s going to come a point when people will demand how their data is used,” Victor White, director of marketing at Gigya, said.
(Not unfamiliar with the privacy debate, Gigya was one of a number of technology companies recently accused of regularly ignoring the provisions of privacy advocates.)
The whole issue of consumer privacy “goes back to trust,” said Teresa Caro, SVP of industry solutions at enterprise social relationship platform Shoutlet.
Launched earlier this summer, Red Peak Youth is part of Red Peak Group, which was founded by Michael Birkin in 2009.
Earlier this year, Red Peak Group was gobbled up by Hakuhodo DY Holdings, the second-largest advertising and marketing services holding company in Japan.