Consumers Request Deals and Emails, not Targeted Ads

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Consumers are requesting deals and email offers from brands they trust in lieu of background tracking and personalized ads chasing them around the Web. That’s according to a new report by Cheetah Digital and Econsultancy.

The consumer research comes as brands and tech companies scramble to adapt to heightened privacy standards. Privacy legislation and anti-tracking changes by giants such as Google and Apple are forcing marketers to consider how to leverage digital channels to promote their products without discomfiting consumers or falling out of step with the law.

The Cheetah Digital survey suggests that the answer to shifting privacy rules may be simple and surprisingly conventional: Ask for an email address in exchange for clear value such as deals and discounts.

The 5,065 survey respondents came from the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Spain, and France.

What consumers want from marketers

Email: Nearly half of consumers report purchasing a product as a result of an email. The report says this suggests email could be up to 92% more effective at promoting sales than banner ads, social ads, and organic content.

Loyalty: Two-thirds of consumers say they will wait longer or pay more to purchase from a brand they trust. Seventy-nine percent suggest brands spend more on loyalty than on social marketing.

Ethics: Fifty-eight percent said they have switched brands for ethical reasons. It’s becoming more important for brands to take a stand on social and political issues.

What consumers do not want

Background tracking: Let’s be honest: Automatic location tracking and other forms of tracking lacking transparency have always been creepy. Marketers know this, and consumers confirmed it, saying they would prefer transparent requests for their data in exchange for clear benefits. This is becoming table stakes for the new privacy-conscious era of digital marketing.

Facebook (supposedly): Two-thirds of consumers said they would prefer brands that do not advertise on Facebook. (Color me a bit skeptical on this one. It may say something about the negative influence Facebook’s PR problems of the past few years are having on ad spend there, but I’d wager consumers are unlikely to keep tabs on who’s running campaigns on the Big Blue App, to say nothing of Instagram’s comparatively balmy reputation.)


The report notes that “consumers’ digital expectations have risen exponentially” in the wake of the pandemic.

Covid’s aftermath is dovetailing with increased privacy concerns to forge an evolving set of marketing truisms and best practices:

  • Always ask for consent before tracking
  • Offer deals or other benefits in exchange for data collection
  • Invest in omnichannel so that the online-to-offline transition is seamless
  • BOPIS and curbside pickup are table stakes
  • Good old deals are a safe bet as open Web personalization becomes riskier in terms of consumer trust and legislation
Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]