Marketers in Europe Try to Balance Digital Privacy and Access - eMarketer

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Marketers in Europe Try to Balance Digital Privacy and Access

Tension increases between gathering personal data and protecting privacy

October 18, 2016

Digital privacy has become a key concern for consumers across Europe, creating a tricky balancing act for marketers seeking to provide improved levels of service and personalization without becoming too intrusive in the eyes of internet users.

Types of Companies/Institutions with Which UK Millennial Internet Users Are Comfortable Sharing Personal Data, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Take for example UK millennials, a demographic group which is increasingly expressing concerns about sharing personal data with some types of businesses. A June 2016 study from SAS and Future Foundation, for example, found that less than 50% of UK millennial internet users polled were comfortable sharing personal details with companies such as utilities. Meanwhile, less than one-third were comfortable giving their personal data to retailers or social media companies.

This is not the first survey to note growing UK consumer concerns with data collection by advertisers. According to January 2016 research from Tune, more than half of UK and US smartphone owners said advertisers shouldn’t be allowed to collect any of their personal data. Another quarter of respondents said advertisers should only be allowed to collect “very little.”

Amount of Data that Advertisers Should Be Allowed to Collect According to UK/US Smartphone Owners, Jan 2016 (% of respondents)

While these surveys of UK consumers suggest many are uncomfortable sharing too much personal data with advertisers, the standard of acceptability does vary depending on the situation. In fact, some other consumers in Europe are comfortable sharing personal details given the right circumstances. Take for example a recent survey of internet users in France, which found that a not insignificant amount were willing to exchange personal details in exchange for special discounts and services.

While the digital privacy landscape appears to be getting more complex, it seems increasingly likely that marketers in Europe will need to continuously navigate the gray area between gathering too much and not enough consumer data in order to succeed in the years to come.

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