Few People Are Comfortable Sharing Data Through Third Parties

Consumers prefer to give information directly to brands

People are becoming more suspicious of sharing data through third parties.

According to a recent Vision Critical survey of digital buyers in North America, 80.1% of respondents said they would be comfortable sharing personal information directly with a brand for the purposes of personalizing marketing messages. But just 16.7% said they would be OK with sharing this type of information through third parties.

The utilization of third-party data has become a hot topic in recent weeks due to Facebook’s ongoing scandal with Cambridge Analytica, in which information was harvested without people’s permission for voter targeting purposes.

The growing skepticism toward data collection was reflected in a Gallup survey of 785 Facebook users in April 2018, in which 43% of respondents said they were very concerned about invasion of privacy. That was up from 30% in 2011.

Facebook also recently announced it was shutting down its Partner Categories, which enables third-party data providers to offer their targeting directly on the platform. The updates to Facebook’s data sharing policies caused services like dating app Tinder, which relied on users to log in with their Facebook credentials, to crash.

“The ads world and the data world are just crashing into the real world right now,” said Mark Rabkin, Facebook’s vice president of ads and business platform, during AdExchanger’s programmatic conference in San Francisco this week.

Another topic that’s making users question how their data is being used by advertisers is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect in May. The GDPR states that people’s data can only be used if they give a company explicit permission. It is causing much consternation within the marketing tech space, and it is pressuring companies that rely on third-party data.

While the GDPR applies to EU citizens, anxiety about third-party data is spreading to this side of the Atlantic. Only 27.8% of those surveyed by Vision Critical believed there are enough safeguards in place to ensure their personal information is protected.

Of course, advertisers can be proactive in soothing users' fears. Among those polled by Vision Critical, 43.8% said they would be more comfortable giving their personal data to companies if they could easily see all the personal information that companies store about them.

But that will take some work. Rabkin said ad platforms need “to do a way better job than we were doing before” when it comes to making data disclosures clear to users.