Are consumers getting less creeped out about being tracked online?
While privacy concerns are certainly heightening amid legislation and calls for increased transparency, inhibitions about sharing information for a better online experience may be decreasing at an even faster pace.
A recent survey of more than 5,000 global consumers from Cheetah Digital and Econsultancy shows many common online tracking practices to be considered only slightly more “creepy” than “cool.” These include:
- Adverts on social media sites based on recent shopping experiences on other sites: 48 percent, “cool”; 52 percent, “creepy”;
- An email reminder or advert about a product abandoned in an online shopping cart: 46 percent, “cool”; 54 percent, “creepy”;
- Personalized offers after staying on a brand’s site for more than two minutes: 46 percent, “cool”; 54 percent “creepy”;
- A chatbot that has access to past purchase history to help with online shopping: 44 percent, “cool”; 56 percent, “creepy”.
One method accepted by the wide majority is offering recommendations based on past purchases: 73 percent, “cool”; 27 percent, “creepy.”
Some practices considered by a wide majority as invasive, or “creepy,” include advertisements that follow them across devices, advertisements related to something they talked about near a smart device, and advertisements from companies they don’t know based on location data.
Surveys continue to show consumers are concerned about companies tracking their data but also wanting a higher level of personalization.
A McKinsey study from 2019 found some 40 percent of U.S. consumers indicating they were not as concerned about the tracking and capturing of their content consumption, purchases, online searches or even usage of their opt-in wristbands (such as Fitbits. More invasive targeting actions were seen as algorithms having full-text access to emails, the use of facial recognition in physical stores and voice recognition devices listening in while connected in homes.
Merkle’s second edition of its Consumer Experience Sentiment Report based on a survey of 1,300 U.S. consumers in March found the percentage of respondents who are uncomfortable sharing personal information, regardless of the benefit, decreased to 23 percent of respondents from 28 percent a year ago. The feeling that personalization makes it easier to find products/services of interest rose to 49 percent from 47 percent.
- Digital Consumer Trends Index 2021 – Cheetah Digital/Econsultancy
- Why Personalization Matters for Consumer Privacy –- MIT Sloan Management Review
- Personalized Marketing Can Be Ineffective—and Creepy. Here Are 3 Research-Backed Tips for Getting It Right – KelloggInsight
- Merkle’s Annual Consumer Experience Sentiment Report Explores Consumer Privacy Preferences and Brand Loyalty – Merkle/Business Wire
- Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information – Pew Research Center
- Making It Personal – Accenture
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are consumers getting more or less concerned about sharing their data in exchange for a better online experience? Will most common personalization approaches become increasingly accepted in the years ahead?