Consumers Value Both Privacy and Personalization

Consumers Value Both Privacy and Personalization

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Marketing publications often discuss data privacy and personalization as if they are in tension. In reality, consumers want both.

Fifty percent of consumers cited privacy as paramount in online advertising, according to a new survey of 1,000 US consumers by Vericast. Thirty-six percent said personal relevance was most important.

Baby Boomers were the generation most likely to identify privacy as more important than personalization. Millennials were the least likely to say the same.

But the importance of privacy doesn’t mean consumers don’t value data-driven personalization. Sixty-two percent felt positive to neutral toward targeted ads. Twenty percent said they had made a purchase driven by a personalized ad.

What consumers do want from personalized ads is transparency. Thirty-nine percent said they felt powerless to control how companies use their personal data. Twenty-three percent were unsure what kinds of data companies collect.

The real data privacy conundrum

It is not actually hard in theory to understand how marketers can deliver both privacy and personalization. Marketers can get consumer consent to deliver personalized ads.

But in practice, getting consent, especially to the high level that privacy advocates demand, is very challenging.

The gold standard for privacy would be not just to get consent to collect data and use it to personalize ads but also to get consent for a certain time period, for sharing data, and for various use cases, including ad targeting.

Despite the proliferation of consent management platforms, there is currently no solution for consumers to signal their consent for all those granular use cases, nor signs that a meaningful part of the public has a desire to do so much digital privacy paperwork.

The challenge for marketers, then, becomes how to provide a data-driven experience while respecting customer privacy. Asking consumers how much control they want over their data would, as the Vericast study indicates, be a start.

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]