The biggest challenge for students: they don't categorize and define personal information consistently. They also don't understand who's using the information, and how it's being used. Ball State will release the research on consumer attitudes toward privacy and personal information after the New Year.
During the last SIS earlier this year, Prieb presented findings from a study where college students were asked to envision improvements to search. The students wanted search to reflect their life and style by indexing everything about them online. They wanted personalized search to provide recommendations and options more in tune with their likes, integrating search and social by connecting to their networks in a seamless experience. They wanted to search on their mobile as easily on their PC, with options tied to their geo-location.
Did those students consider the privacy implications when they imagined those changes? That became one of the biggest questions coming from marketers and advertisers attending the previous SIS. So, Prieb went back to the students to ask them. She got crickets. The students knew they wanted these capabilities, but didn't realize the consequences of what they wanted.
Prieb presented an infographic of how the students surveyed felt about personal information. The students wrote down what they considered personal information, which they then placed in color zones. Green defined information they felt comfortable sharing. Yellow meant data that made them a little cautious, understanding there's a little risk involved. Red signified information they were not comfortable sharing, and would do so only if required.
Students were all over the map in the way they defined personal information and how they categorized it by color. Some felt it was fine for others to know their political affiliation, so they put it in the green, but others wanted to keep it in the red. They felt comfortable sharing music, but not their browsing history. Most felt pictures should remain in the yellow zone and be available only to friends.
Marketers are entering the era of transparency. The research suggests those companies showing students the benefits of collecting and using data will have customers for life.