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Consumers Want Personalization -- and Privacy

  |  August 16, 2005   |  Comments

Users want the benefits of personalization, but are unwilling to trade their privacy to get it.

Personalization remains something most consumers want, though their privacy fears continue to escalate.

According to the second annual personalization study conducted by personalization vendor Choicestream, 80 percent of consumers in the 2005 survey were interested in receiving personalized content. In 2004, 81 percent said they were interested in it.

To get personalized content, 60 percent of respondents indicated they'd be willing to spend a minimum of two minutes answering questions, up from 56 percent in 2004. Over a quarter (26 percent) reported they would be willing to spend at least 6 minutes answering questions, up from 21 percent last year. Only 12 percent said they wouldn't be willing to spend any time answering personalization question, down from 14 percent in 2004.

Types of content personalization respondents seek vary with age. Nearly half (47 percent) of 18 to 24 years olds are more interested in personalized content about music. TV and movie content is of interest to 27 percent, while 24 percent say they'd be interested in receiving personalized content about books.

Among the over-50 set, news was the top category at 28 percent, followed by Web search (26 percent) and books (22 percent).

Across all age groups the study finds retailers are leaving "dollars on the table" because they areno't delivering the personalized content users want and/or need. In particular the study notes 37 percent of respondents of all ages reported they would have bought more DVDs/videos if they had found more of what they liked. A third (34 percent) reported a similar incongruity with music.

Despite the fact users want more personalization and would buy more if they could get more personalized content, they're not willing to share as much personal information as they once were. Respondents indicated decreasing willingness to share preference (59 percent in 2005/65 percent in 2004) and demographic information (46 percent in 2005/57 percent in 2004) to receive personalized content.

US Consumer Concern That Personal Data Might Not Be Secure 2005
Click on graphic to view chart
Security of personal data is the biggest personalization concern. "The most surprising aspect of the study was the juxtaposition of the interest in personalization versus the fear of personal data loss," Doug Feick, ChoiceStream's EVP of finance and business affairs told ClickZ Stats. "Consumers are clearly expressing an interest in a personalized experience. Those same consumers are expressing significant fear about the security of their personal information should they exchange it for a more personalized online experience."

US Consumer Willingness to Allow Sites to Track Clicks and Purchases for Personalized Content 2005
Click on graphic to view chart
The study also found only 32 percent of respondents were willing to allow Web sites to track clicks and purchases in exchange for personalized content, down from 41 percent in 2004. Feick explained it's not just about third-party cookies, first party cookies are at issue, too. "The survey asked if users would be willing to share personal information with a trusted site in exchange for a more personalized experience," Feick said. "In the last year, there has been so much coverage about the potential compromise to personal data; we believe the results largely reflect that the survey took place amid coverage of these security breaches."

The online survery was conducted in May, 2005. It includes 923 respondents initially contacted via email by online survey provider Zoomerang.

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