Personalization Is Not a Motivating Factor For People to Share Their Information

While conventional marketing thinking says that customers prefer personalized marketing experiences and are willing to share more personal data to get that, new research shows that they may not.

In a survey of 1,100 US internet users, the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) found that 93% of respondents said they would be willing to share their gender with a website, but that dropped marginally to 90% if it meant the data was used to create a personalized ad experience. Approximately 91% said they would share their race or ethnicity, but that dropped to 86% for a personalized experience.

This tracks with our own reporting on personalization and data-driven ad experiences. Principal analyst Nicole Perrin found that while marketers may think customers want personalization, there’s growing consumer skepticism over those experiences.

“While a 1-point lift [in engagement or conversions] for a marketer may be a result worth celebrating, it doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are perceiving those messages as personalized and highly relevant,” she said.

The ARF survey also found that, in general, people were slightly less likely to share their data in 2019 than they were in 2018, when the foundation first conducted its annual privacy study. For example, there was a 10-percentage point drop between those willing to share their home address this year (31%) and those who said they would do so last year (41%).

According to the study, the other biggest changes in whether respondents were willing to share their data between this year and last were seen in spouse’s first and last name (-8 percentage points), personal email address (-7 percentage points) and first and last names (-6 percentage points).

The survey also asked respondents which institutions they trusted, and there has been little change in almost every category polled. About a third (30%) of respondents said they trusted advertising last year and only 27% did this year; a third (33%) of people who said they use social media sometimes said they trusted it last year, and only 30% said they did this year.

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