Where Consumers Draw The Line With Personal Data Collection

June 13, 2013

Adobe-Consumer-Attitudes-Online-Data-Collection-Privacy-June2013Consumers around the world generally find website customization to be of some value, with 33% of respondents to a new Adobe and Edelman Berland survey attributing some value to personalized product and service recommendations on websites, compared to 26% seeing little to no value. But, privacy concerns abound, according to the study, with 84% agreeing that there are too many technologies tracking and analyzing behavior and 82% agreeing that companies collect too much information on consumers. Some practices simply cross over from customization to an invasion of privacy: 79% feel that way about their information being collected without them knowing it.

The next-most invasive practices? Many respondents – who hailed from the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia and South Korea – also said that the collection of personal data online croses over from customization to privacy invasion when:

  • Information is shared with 3rd parties (74%);
  • They have to enter their social security number (or presumably some other identifier for other countries – 62%);
  • An ad follows them around from one website to another (51%); and
  • A website knows their geographic location (48%).

Within the US, respondents felt much more strongly that most of those practices crosses a line, with social security number requests (86%) rating as their most invasive data collection practice, followed by information collected unknowingly (83%) and shared with 3rd parties (also 83%). NSA snooping was not an option… although Americans appear to be somewhat accepting of the government’s monitoring of emails and other online activity in the name of terror prevention, per a recent study from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Returning to the Adobe study, the data shows that unlike recent research showing some preference for targeted ads, 74% of American respondents (and 68% of respondents globally) find it creepy when companies target ads to consumers based on their behavior.

All told, 77% (and 86% in the US) feel that consumers have lost control of their privacy.

About the Data: The data points referenced above come from a study commissioned by Adobe, produced by research firm Edelman Berland and conducted as an online survey among a nationally representative sample of the population of each country. The study is based on interviews with 8,750 consumers and 1,750 professional marketers across the United States, Europe (United Kingdom, Germany, France) and Asia-Pacific (Japan, Australia, and South Korea). The research expands on the study Adobe initially executed in the United States in October 2012, which surveyed 1,000 consumers and 250 professional marketers to now include seven additional countries. The margin of sampling error at the 95% confidence level is as follows:

U.S. (n=1,250): MOE = +/- 2.8% (October/November 2012)
U.K. (n=1,250): MOE = +/- 2.8% (October/November 2012)
Germany (n=1,250): MOE = +/- 2.8% (April 2013)
France (n=1,250): MOE = +/- 2.8% (April 2013)
Japan (n=1,250): MOE = +/- 2.8% (October/November 2012)
Australia (n=1,250): MOE = +/- 2.8% (October/November 2012)
South Korea (n=1,250): MOE = +/- 2.8% (April 2013)

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