Commentary

Consumers Don't Want To 'Pay' With Data, New Study Suggests

Americans might use loyalty cards for discounts, or surf the Web through a store's free WiFi, but that doesn't mean that they want information about themselves compiled for marketing purposes.

At least, that's the implication of a new study by Joe Turow, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication. The study, based on a survey of around 1,500 people, reportedly found that most people aren't comfortable with data mining by marketers.

More than half of the respondents (55%) disagreed with the idea that a store should be able to “create a picture” of them in order to improve services, while around 70% said it wasn't fair for stores with free WiFi to monitor shoppers' online activities, and 91% said companies shouldn't collect data about shoppers in exchange for discounts without telling them, according to a write-up of the survey in The New York Times.

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This isn't the first time that research has suggested that consumers don't want information about themselves collected by companies, even when offered a benefit in exchange for the data. Six years ago, a study by Turow showed that 49% of people don't want customized discounts, while 57% don't want customized ads.

More recently, Pew reported in 2012 that most Web users don't like targeted ads. When Pew researchers asked around 1,700 Web users how they felt about receiving targeted ads, 68% of respondents said they were "not okay with it" because they don't want to be tracked and profiled. Only 28% said they were "okay with it" because they received ads and information relevant to their interests.

The latest survey by Turow also showed that people want to wield more power over how their data is collected and used. An overwhelming majority -- 84% -- said they wanted more control over what a marketer could learn about them, according to the Times.

The industry often responds to these sorts of studies by reiterating that its privacy code requires companies to notify people about online data collection across sites (or across apps) via an icon, and allow them to opt out of receiving targeted ads. But very few users -- only around one in 10, according to one recent report -- understand the industry's icon program.

What's more, the ad industry also doesn't require companies to stop collecting data about users who opt out. Instead, the industry's self-regulatory code prohibits companies from using that data for ad-targeting purposes.

Privacy advocates have long criticized that approach, arguing that companies shouldn't gather information from people who try to opt out of targeting. This latest Annenberg study indicates that many consumers agree that they should be able to decide when data about themselves can be mined by advertisers.

1 comment about "Consumers Don't Want To 'Pay' With Data, New Study Suggests".
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  1. cara marcano from reporte hispano, June 5, 2015 at 9:38 a.m.

    There is something interesting here about whether or not this whole model of "stalking the consumer"  is the best way to drive sales or build a relationship with consumers. Corporate America and Madison Ave are so heavily invested in it and yet haven't seen sales lift from it.
    The more traditional way of having a message that resonates and even the old-fashioned way of asking someone to voluntarily fill out a survey or "interview" the consumer for a voluntary, consensual human insight - that is get the HUMAN insight first, get the customers buy-in first in a consensual way and then do good products,good advertising and marketing creative with trusted media brands who are community influencers, seems to drive sales better. Which does bring up this interesting #WHY of why the focus on stalking folks without their consent for sales. Why not try harder to do good products and talk about them in creative ways and invest that message in real media? What actually was wrong with that model at #ROI? Did it just all of a sudden cost to much? That argument is hard to follow given the multi-hundred million dollar media budgets of most of corporate America.  Whey not put budges behind products with a story customers want and work on the creative and push that message out to consumers top-of-the-funnel as well as at the bottom with TRUSTED real media that has a body of users who have already opted in to love that media brand so that folks WANT to come to us as marketers and media because they love what we are doing? This  does seem to drive sales better than this other data stalking model,which in addition to creating bad PR, doesn't seem to actually drive sales. Some folks seem to have confused  sure thing at trackability but doesn't appear to drive sales or at least it has been difficult for companies using this to show sales lift. 
    Again when someone -- a potential customer tells you - I want this and not this,  we should listen if we want to see sales lift. What is also surprising is how few folks with a Dale Carnegie sort of sales mentality seem to be applying that to marketing and advertisng and media. Is that not the joy of it, to hit an insight and to really get folks to come along with you and your brand because they want to, because they love you and your message and what it stands for? 

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