How Consumers Feel About First-Party Data

More than 90% of marketers believe leveraging first-party data to better understand their customers is critical to growth. But how do consumers feel about sharing their personal information — which is how marketers capture first-party data? 

Earlier this year, Adswerve surveyed 1,000 adults across the U.S. to identify consumers’ attitudes and behaviors concerning online privacy. The results shine a light on consumer apprehensions — and knowledge gaps — when it comes to their personal data.

The consumer state of mind on privacy in 2021

Our survey uncovered insights into the attitudes, behaviors, and actions of today’s consumers with regard to data privacy.

  1. Consumers’ beliefs and actions about data are contradictory.

Consumers are aware their data is valuable to brands — and luckily for marketers, many are willing to share it in exchange for perks. Approximately one third of consumers reported they have benefited from sharing data with brands. 

Meanwhile, 32% of respondents said they wouldn’t accept any dollar amount in exchange for access to their data — even when provided an option of $1 million. The other two-thirds of consumers would be willing to share their data, but for a price. In determining what consumers think their data is worth, we found that 46% of respondents are only willing to pay up to $10 per month on a service that provides personal data privacy control and protection. And nearly half (49%) haven’t deleted any social media apps despite publicized data leaks and misuse.

When we asked our respondents about the types of data they are most concerned about, consumers ranked financial history or status (i.e., late payments or current credit card balance) as one of the most valuable pieces of information. Many respondents also indicated they would give up data for higher credit scores and better credit offers. Specifically, 18% said they would give up a “significant” amount of data for a higher credit score, and 14% would do the same for better credit offers.

  1. There’s a significant knowledge gap in consumer privacy education.

Consumers are desperate to own their data and are convinced they understand privacy, yet their lack of understanding is leaving them ill-protected.

A whopping 91% of respondents indicated it’s important for them to have control over the information that’s collected about them, with nearly 70% saying it is “extremely” important. Nearly two-thirds (67%) of respondents believe they’re cognizant of their privacy rights, but their actual knowledge on the matter says otherwise. 

When asked to describe legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act, 61% of respondents couldn’t provide an answer. Twenty-one percent said they could explain the American Data Protection Act — a nonexistent regulation. 

  1. The people and organizations with whom consumers are willing to share their data varies.

Consumers are especially concerned about brands and influencers seeing where they’ve browsed online. More than a quarter of consumers indicated they would be extremely uncomfortable with social media influencers having access to their browsing history, and nearly 40% said they’re not comfortable sharing data with brands. This is in line with the 34% of consumers who don’t trust brands to responsibly use their data and the 54% who don’t trust modern advertising tactics like social media ads or search links.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers feel comfortable sharing data with a spouse, and 42% said the same about their parents. Interestingly, 47% of respondents said they would feel comfortable sharing their browsing history with law enforcement — but only 27% said the same about their employers.

How to thrive in a digital landscape driven by first-party data

Insights into the behaviors and preferences of consumers present an opportunity for marketers to build a customer-centric strategy for first-party data collection. What perks, if any, are you offering consumers for data? Do people trust your brand? These are the types of questions you should be asking. First-party data is a valuable asset, and you should lean into it — but only if you have the right strategy and tools.

  • Build trust with consumers. To collect the right data, you need to build trust with your users. Offer better perks, only collect the necessary information, and explicitly tell users how you’ll use their information and why you are gathering it. People are more likely to offer up their data if they know it’s being used responsibly. 
  • Fully leverage your resources. First-party data doesn’t miraculously yield insights when you collect and store it. But with the right strategy, digital tools, and team of experts, you can perform advanced analysis to engage with your customers on a more personal level. Using tools like machine learning in Google Cloud and predictive lifetime value modeling, your analytics experts and data scientists can garner advanced insights. Additionally, implementing tools like consent platforms and the latest version of Google Analytics ensures compliance and guarantees you’re collecting the right data.
  • Continuously develop your processes and strategy. Since a first-party data approach may be new, you’ll need to adopt a trial-and-error mindset. You will likely face limited signals and need to turn to propensity modeling and other advanced analysis to fill in data gaps. Prioritize improving your strategy — from the places you collect data to the tools you’re using to unlock insights — and eventually you’ll determine what works best for you.

As we rely more on first-party data than ever, it’s critical to understand consumer preferences and behaviors concerning their privacy and information. Consumers are desperate to own their data, but if you know how to reach them, you’ll have a significant advantage over competitors. 

Charles Farina is Head of Innovation at Adswerve.

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