In the last several years, as marketers and as people, we’ve watched attitudes towards data collection and usage shifting. We’ve seen a third-party data free-for-all morph into an increasingly protected and regulated industry that encourages consent and willing participation from the consumer in the exchange of personal data. As data usage transitions from a consumer issue to a political one to a global one, we’re seeing a new and not-so-expected one: the push and pull of public safety vs. personal privacy. It’s the issue we’re living right now, forcing consumers to rethink the data they’re willing to share as COVID-19 continues to creep its way into every area of our lives.
COVID-19 is changing the way we think about data sharing
You may have downloaded an app recently. It could either be as simple as taking one minute to report how you’re feeling or it could be as involved as allowing your movements to be tracked and sharing medical information you’d normally only share with a doctor. In the U.S., downloading these apps is voluntary, but it’s just one of the examples of how COVID-19 is, yet again, shifting how we think of data sharing. Consumers have been burned in the past with sharing their data, so can they trust the powers that be to protect this incredibly sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?
Which matters more? Our personal health, the health of our friends, neighbors, and communities, or our privacy? Will this usher in an era of tracking technology becoming the norm? What can marketers do to respect privacy while also learning how to navigate yet another complication?
It’s a complex and interesting issue and one that eMarketer has recently released a report on, Consumer Privacy in the Age of COVID-19: How the Pandemic is Changing Data Collection. In the 16-page, heavily researched report, they interview experts in multiple industries, including Cheetah Digital CMO Richard Jones, about the point where health, data, surveillance, and privacy intersect.
“Even as COVID-19 was kicking off, our research showed that trends toward [more] privacy were not abating. If anything, we saw a hardening of attitudes,” Cheetah Digital’s Jones said. “In order to kickstart recovery, a lot of marketers are probably going to have the knee-jerk reaction and jump to doing personalized ads, even though 30% of customers are turned off by them,” he added. Instead, he advises carefully considering an appropriate value exchange and focusing on loyalty. “The flip side of not liking personalized ads based off cookie data and not wanting to be snooped on or tracked by brands is that the majority of consumers will happily share data direct to a brand if there’s a value exchange for them.”
The report takes a look at tracking technology, consumer attitudes, the implications for marketers, and some great takeaways. To read the report you can access it below.