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Blurred Lines: Do consumers really care about privacy?

Updated: May 23, 2023

Do consumers really care about privacy

It would be reasonable to assume that if a consumer has lower concerns about data privacy their consent rates would be higher, right? According to recent insights from Omnicom Media Group's OMG Signal unit, that doesn't always seem to be the case.

The consumer research arm launched and paired original insights around consumers' concerns over data privacy with research completed last year from Sourcepoint, a software company, over what sectors they were willing to share consent.

The numbers didn't line up for some industries such as banking and finance. This disconnect is likely due to a difference in what customers say they want and what they actually do.

"While concern might be a barrier for consumers to consent/opt into data collection, lack of concern in and of itself isn't enough to motivate consent," said Renee Cassard, chief research officer at Omnicom Media Group North America. "Opting in to share your data has to bring value with it, and consumer definitions of value vary depending on the situational context."

Obtaining Consent

In this survey, OMG Signal discovered roughly 63 percent showed concerns about sharing data, while 31 percent said they were highly concerned. Concerns about data privacy increased as the ages got older.

In general, users appear to give more access to general-interest sites with declining consent in finance, government, and healthcare websites.

That survey found that authoritative or trustworthy sites, such as news channels, generated a 76 percent consent rate, while food and drink sectors had a consent rate of 86 percent. The consent rate reduces with more specialized content. Personal finance saw a significantly lower consent rate at 24 percent.

What does this mean? For one, it appears more consumers are willing to share their data away for personalized coffee recommendations but reluctant to share for relevant financial products.

Marketers must understand the value needed to gain consent in different sectors. And for those that have lower opt-in rates, it may be better to offer self-assessment options rather than specific, tailored information.

Interpreting consumers' expectations and attitudes and aligning those with more valuable content is the key to motivating them to provide consent.

What's Causing The Gap?

So, what's the reason behind this gap? It could be a variety of reasons. For one, it could be a lack of education on data privacy.

67% of internet users in the US are not aware of their country's privacy and data protection rules. And only 3% of Americans understand the current online privacy regulations. According to recent studies, just 3% of internet users in the US understand the current laws and regulations in place to protect their data privacy, with 63% either having no idea of or not understanding the regulations altogether.

Furthermore, the need for data privacy isn't widely understood by all users. Some prefer not to consent because they're tired of seeing ads. Others fear identity theft and fraud. 72 percent of 1,002 respondents surveyed in April 2019 answered identity theft and fraud. Sixty-four percent were also worried about stolen passwords.

Final Words

Overcoming the gap between what the consumer consents to one they want will come with time through proper education. Focus on creating valuable content that shows your site visitors that their data is well-used.

As the world becomes a more digital place, more and more privacy concerns will emerge. Consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of the importance of their data and will do whatever it takes to maintain their privacy.

By the end of 2022, we are confident consumers will demand more from the brands they patronize, and those brands will look to their agencies for guidance.

Check out our Marketers Guide to Data Privacy for more information.

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