New Forrester study shows privacy concerns and user behavior are inconsistent


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Targeted AdLast week, a Forrester survey called attention to an interesting dilemma that is developing in the online world. While consumers’ online privacy concerns are growing, they are also enjoying the benefits of being tracked.

In a survey of 5,000 US adults, Forrester asked questions regarding feelings about online privacy and trust. The results highlighted the tension between concern over tracking and desire for ad personalization that offers tangible rewards.

Let’s dig into some of the results…

People do not trust companies with their data

The most telling results of the survey came from the following question:

Trust DataBased on these results, it’s clear that people do not trust companies they are giving information to. Not one type of company received a “yes” response rate greater than 45%. Banks, a seemingly secure institution, have just 45% of people’s trust, while mobile applications and social networking sites are only trusted by 5% and 7% of respondents respectively.

These results are consistent with a privacy study published by Accenture last week. Accenture found that 80% of consumers in the US and UK aged 20-40 believe that total online privacy is a thing of the past. After the NSA spying scandal and massive data breaches at Target, eBay, and Neiman Marcus, it should come as no surprise that consumer concerns regarding privacy have grown significantly in the past few years.

Companies are earning trust through bribes

Despite this general lack of trust, targeted ads are still swaying consumers to divulge personal information. Forrester asked the following question of the same 5,000 people:

Information Data

While 42% of people claim “nothing would motivate me to share personal information with companies,” many others said that they would cough up personal info in return for benefits such as cash rewards or loyalty program points.

Herein lies a scary contradiction for the world of online privacy. Although consumers have privacy concerns, many believe that a tangible consumer benefit is more valuable than their personal information. And as long as consumers continue to feel this way, companies will continue to bribe consumers for their trust rather than earn it.

Where do we go from here?

So how do we get people to stop giving up their information? The answer lies within online privacy education.

Here at Abine we want people to understand that the consequences of divulging personal information significantly outweigh the benefits. When a company has your phone number, email address, and credit card information, your information is at their mercy (and the mercy of whatever companies they share your info with). These companies often sell your information, or they develop profiles for consumers that can determine harmful things like your credit score or whether or not you get a job.

People trust companies with their information less and less, but certain perks and discounts seem to be worth it for some. As technology, data collection methods, and targeting continue to evolve, it will be interesting to see how people’s feelings change on this front.

*All images and statistics provided by Forrester

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