New research shows 65 per cent of Australians are less willing to buy a product or use a service from a brand if it uses their personal data. While there are variations by product category, the report argues that this statistic demonstrates the rise of data privacy considerations in consumers’ decision-making.

The research from Group M, Consumer Trust in Digital Marketing surveyed 14,000 consumers in 23 countries and highlights consumers’ concerns with digital marketing. 

The study was conducted prior to the global spread of the Coronavirus and acknowledged the implications of the crisis are not yet completely clear however it is possible the Covid-19 outbreak will accelerate consumers’ awareness of data privacy.

On one hand, the report argues, consumers may become more accepting of their data being used for societal good — for example, tracking of movements for public health-related issues. At the same time, they may become more demanding that their data not be exploited for commercial gain without their consent.

The report found Australians are more conscious of their data privacy than the global average. Globally, 61 per cent of consumers say they are less inclined to use a product if their data is used for any purpose and 56 per cent of consumers want more control over their data.

“While Australians may be more risk-averse than other nations to providing data to companies and have concerns on how their data is being used, as marketers we need to understand that, respect it and take the opportunity to harness relevancy and contextual placement,” said Venessa Hunt, Chief Digital Strategy Officer at Group M Australia. 

“Using data to understand the consumer, and using that insight to provide a better advertising experience on digital channels, is critical to marketers. But there is a distinct line between personalisation and invasion.”  

Christian Juhl, Global CEO of Group M, said, “With pervasive reports of data security and privacy missteps, consumers are increasingly wary of information gathering about them as they move online. 

“Media has evolved dramatically and it’s crucial the industry work collaboratively to make advertising work better for people around the world. As marketers, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are using consumer information responsibly and transparently.”

The research showed consumers react more positively to TV advertising and 37 per cent of consumers feel digital ads are too intrusive. 

Marketers need to focus on using the right digital platforms to reach consumers, to be transparent about how data is gathered and used, and to think holistically about the many media venues where they can build consumer relationships, the report authors noted. 

Hunt said it has never been more important to focus on quality and brand safety across all media. 

She explains, “When we focus on the right quality metrics, digital has the most personal connection and a great ability to drive brand growth. This report emphasises the need for marketers to consider whether the online advertising environments in which they appear are appropriate to them. 

“This is a fundamental pillar of good media planning and more rigour should be placed around where your digital advertising is seen — just as it is in every other marketing channel.”

Changing privacy settings and deleting cookies and browser history — areas informing digital advertising — are on the rise, according to the report. If companies wish to continue using consumers’ data, marketers may need to offer incentives and communicate the benefits more convincingly. 

Being transparent about consumer data usage, with clear frameworks aligned through a whole organisation, will help foster a new relationship of trust in the digital marketing process, the research said. 

Digital marketing concerns

The research found consumers had digital marketing concerns which included fake news on social media, cyberbullying and online predators. 

Seventy-five per cent of consumers believe it is a digital platform’s responsibility to stop inappropriate content from appearing.

In order to secure consumer trust in their brands, marketers should continue to consider whether the online advertising platforms they are using are appropriate for the type of brand content they’re creating. 

Additionally, they should ensure they’re setting parameters around ad placements that build marketing effectiveness and protect brand value.

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