February 2007 - Editor's Perspective

What’s Privacy Worth These Days?

Recently, I came across an interesting piece of online data released by ChoiceStream. The market research firm conducted a personalization survey in which consumers were asked about their willingness to provide demographic information in exchange for a personalized online experience.

According to the study, 57 percent of consumers said they’re willing to reveal their personal information, especially if they know they’re getting convenience and personalized service in return. In fact, that figure rose by 24 percent from last year.

Why is this significant? Perhaps it’s because marketers and online retailers are under contant pressure to ensure that they protect consumers’ privacy and personal information, especially when it comes to their databases. However, it’s important to point out that the ChoiceStream study didn’t show a dramatic decline in the number of consumers distressed about the security of their personal data online. Does this mean they’re willing to take the gamble? Perhaps, but it doesn’t mean marketers are given carte blanche when handling consumer information.

The proliferation of social networking subscribers to sites like YouTube and MySpace most likely is the reason why more consumers are “letting their hair down” when it comes to volunteering their personal data. How else would you explain average citizens willing to broadcast their private moments and often obscure talents over the Internet? Or, how about those who share their diaries with the online community?

The ChoiceStream survey also revealed that out of 30 percent of respondents who admitted to membership in a social network, 75 percent said personalization would likely improve their overall social networking experience by linking them with members who share their interests and tastes.

According to other findings:

  • Forty-five percent of consumers are dissatisfied with their current onscreen TV program guide, because it takes too long to find programming of interest.
  • Forty-seven percent indicated that they are interested in receiving a personalized guide to help them find shows and movies that match their tastes and interests.
  • Sixty-two percent of respondents age 18 to 24 said they are interested in personalization, while 37 percent of those age 50 and older also expressed interest in personalization.
  • Forty percent of surveyed consumers said they would view more VOD/PPV content if it were easier to access programming and movies that matched their tastes and interests.

The above data shows that it’s not enough just to offer the technology to consumers-no matter how “cool” it might be. If they’re not provided enough direction on how to access the content, they most likely won’t be paying attention to your marketing message.

It also reveals that consumers are becoming more savvy about how they want their content fed to them. If they’re willing to provide marketers and advertisers with key demographic data, at the very least, they expect companies to lead them in the right direction. After all, they’re giving up a little bit of privacy. Is it too much to ask for personalization that doesn’t require a huge owner’s manual or a Ph.D?

Vitisia Paynich


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