What Happens When Consumers Stop Giving Up Data Willingly?

Recent news about how companies like Google and Facebook harvest personal data or allow other companies to gain users' personal data have raised concern among marketers. In the past week I have spoken with a handful of marketers asking the question: "What happens when consumers stop giving up data willingly?"

Marketers are concerned about protecting the privacy of consumers from a personal perspective, but they are also concerned professionally with not being able to use proven attribution models, and implement and use third-party data -- as well as what happens when they lose the return on investment it took them years to find.

As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg continues to offer up apologies for allowing political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to get its hands on data from about 50 million members, Google is dealing with media reports that provide a long list of sites in which people can discover exactly what Google knowns about them and uses for ad targeting -- and one in particular.



Privacy rights have been brought to the table by consumers. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted online throughout the United States this past week, only 41% of Americans said they trust Facebook to obey laws that protect their personal information, compared with 66% who said they trust Amazon, 62% who trust Google, 60% who trust Microsoft, and 47% who trust Yahoo.

Yet 90% said they have done nothing to protect their privacy. Some 86% have not changed their user ID on Facebook, Twitter or other social media networks, 78% have not switched to a privacy mode on their browser, and 96% have not begun using privacy-oriented communication service like Signal, WhatsApp, Wickr or Confide.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll also suggests that users no longer find Facebook useful. In fact, when asked to cite the main reason for not using Facebook more often, 30% said they don’t find it that interesting or useful.

When asked how they feel about social media companies using personal information and search history to send targeted advertisements, 41% said these are worse than regular ads. And 63% said they would like to see less targeted ads.

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