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Data capture suffers as consumers opt for online anonymity

23 Jun 2011 10:32 BST Back
Data capture suffers as consumers opt for online anonymity

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More than one in three consumers are now withholding all identifying information when engaging online with brands, according to the findings of the new Direct Marketing Association (DMA)/fast.MAP Data Tracking Study sponsored by Equifax and Communisis.

Of the 1,032 consumers polled for the study, 37 per cent said they were now unwilling to provide any data about themselves when creating a social media account; just 32 per cent said they were willing to provide their name.
Demographic data which marketers have been used to routinely capturing is also becoming harder to obtain. The number of consumers who say they are willing to provide their name, address and email has seen a substantial drop over the last six months. For example, 31 per cent more respondents stated they are not willing to share their name when requesting further information online compared with six months ago. Only 27 per cent will always or frequently provide the information required to get access to information online.

While the findings of the report will make for unwelcome reading for marketers, there is a glimmer of hope for those troubled by the growing threat of online anonymity to consumer data capture. Trust in a brand is cited by 54 per cent of consumers as the most important factor in determining whether or not they choose to share their data.

Chris Combemale, executive director, DMA, says: “The mechanics of data capture is changing fast. It’s predominantly because social media are shifting consumers’ expectations. Many now like to interact online in an anonymous fashion without providing any personal information. Therefore, the old certainty that individual data would be available, accessible and usable is being eroded by technology that has put consumers back in control.

“Moving forward marketers need to reverse the value exchange, so must build trust with consumers first before asking for personal data. Only once engagement has taken place and trust earned will it become possible to start a real conversation and obtain data.”

Charles Ping, director, Communisis Data Intelligence, comments: “Trust remains the holy grail of good marketing. It’s at the heart of brand consideration, and equally should be a key factor within data driven marketing. Trust is built on a shared understanding of values.

“The difficulty marketers must appreciate is that when trust is lost, the damage is often irreparable. Marketers need to place emphasis on understanding both the customer and the data that will make a difference to them. Only then will customers abandon their preference for online anonymity.”

Chris Sherlock, director of marketing services at Equifax, says: “It is no wonder that trust in a company brand is an overriding factor as to whether or not a consumer chooses to share their personal data. But trust can never be taken for granted, especially with companies who have experienced a data breach or are alleged to have misused personal data.
“The key to engendering trust is to ensure engagement with consumers is meaningful to them. Meaningful engagement builds loyalty and provides a strong base for earning trust, which should lead consumers to share more personal data with the expectation that it will further enhance their relationship with the brand.”

Paul Seabrook, co-founder, fast.MAP, comments: “Year by year as the study is repeated, it becomes possible to observe consumers becoming increasingly proactive about protecting their data. They have woken up to the commercial benefits their information provides to third parties.

“Because consumers see themselves, as responsible for looking after their own interests – rather than brands, the Government or trade bodies – marketers need to apply common sense and show clear pillars of trust and benefits when collecting personal data. If they don’t, gradually more consumers will exercise their right to not share their information.”

The biannual Data Tracking Study monitors people’s attitudes to personal information security and investigates the circumstances under which consumers may be willing to divulge data for marketing purposes.

The report can be downloaded here.

For press enquires, please contact:
DMA PR manager Tristan Garrick
Tel : 020 7291 3315

About the Direct Marketing Association

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is Europe’s largest and most influential professional body to serve the multi-billion pound direct marketing industry. Through its unique suite of services and programme of activities, the DMA promotes the business interests of its corporate members and drives the growth of the direct marketing industry as a whole.

The Association supports the professional and commercial development of its members through offering a range of business services, including: networking and knowledge-sharing events; cutting-edge industry studies and research; updates and analysis on the latest political and legal developments; business support tools; and specialised legal advice.
On a wider scale, the DMA UK works to maintain the industry’s self-regulatory framework by developing industry standards of best professional practice; engaging with government and other policymakers on legislative matters that affect the industry; and producing industry standards that guide the sustainable development of direct marketing. The DMA also provides thought leadership for industry, and raises its profile through an active PR programme and ongoing community initiatives.

All of the DMA’s activities are directed at engendering political, commercial and consumer faith in the value of direct marketing.

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