GDPR Fallout -- Full Transparency Doesn't Pay With Cautious Consumers

Call it consent fatigue, permissioning overload or just plain data deluge -- a month on from GDPR being introduced, Britons appear to have had enough of being asked for permission to be marketed to. The irony is, the more open and up front publishers are about it, the more they adhere to the very letter of the GDPR and its spirit,and  the less likely we are to say "yes."

That is apart from if you're Google or Facebook, of course, who still outshine all other publishers for gaining consent, almost certainly because they provide services we feel we can't do without and so we just click "ok" or "got it" and move on.

For the rest of the market, the latest research from Smartpipe and PSB Research shows that when publishers are completely up front and granular about listing whom they might wish to share data with, and actually list those advertising parties, only around one in ten will be given the thumbs up. Conversely, going back to the duopoly, between a quarter and a half of us, depending on the context and our demographic, will say to Google and Facebook.

Interestingly, the research shows a drop off in consent being given once consumers understand whom data is being shared with. At the start of a permission process, 45% said they would trust a publisher to act reasonably with their information. Once the "layered" approach to consent was peeled away to reveal that this could mean 60 ad partners seeing their information, permission levels dropped to 29%. 

The researchers don't explicitly point it out, but it appears clear that consent levels drop the most transparent and open a publisher is about whom data may be shared with, the more resistant people are to providing a granular "yes." Again, interestingly, when non-publishing firms asked to retain personal data, the consent rate shot up from 56% to 83% when a message was displayed assuring consumers that their data would not be shared with third parties.

Clearly, the public is concerned about whom they give their personal information to, but the research also shows they are more inclined to just say "yes" and let it slide if the full ramifications of their decision are not brought home to them. If you immediately ask them to give up their details and provide a long list of third parties to select, it's more likely they will decline than if offered an initial chance to just say "yes" to all without peering any closer. In fact, the researchers show that the latter approach can give opt-in rates of up to 80% compared to the former seeing individual permissions dip as low as just 10%.

Another interesting facet is that baby boomers appear to be twice as likely to refuse cookie consent compared to GenZ and millennials. There is also a spike for the ABC1 demographic compared to lower-income customers. It's only 49% who are consenting to cookies compared to 58%, respectively -- however, it shows that more mature and wealthier members of the public know their data is sought after and are more resistant to allowing it to be used by third parties. 

So older, wealthier and perhaps wiser consumers are being more careful with their permissions. However, the real takeaway here is that if you take the letter of the law in the GDPR and explicitly list all ad partners and are offering granular consent for each, you will have less success than allowing people to just say "yes" to all and carry on consuming content.

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