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    Consumers’ data privacy concerns are waning, per new study

    While Congress scrambles to protect data privacy, many consumers say they are willing to trade their data for a more personalized ad experience, according to the Advertising Research Foundation.

    Despite the upcoming cookiepocalypse, most consumers say that collecting certain personal data in order to receive more relevant ads is somewhat acceptable, according to the fifth annual Privacy Study released by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) today.

    The study explores consumers’ behavior and beliefs about institutions and data privacy; the results are based on a survey conducted on 1,273 US consumers in the spring. It comes as the proposed American Data Privacy and Protection Act, or HR 8152, moves through Congress with surprising bipartisan support. If enacted, it could dramatically alter how many businesses function.

    Here are three key findings from the study:

    1. Consumers will exchange certain info for more relevant ads

    Consumers are willing to trade data for a better, more personalized ad experience. In terms of what info is most acceptable to use, ‘prior purchases’ and ‘the media you use’ ranked the highest at 76% and 74%.

    Respondents also said they were willing to share certain information – such as age, gender, race and ethnicity – in order to get more relevant advertising. Their willingness stems from receiving irrelevant advertising – about a quarter of consumers reported ‘frequently irrelevant’ ads across different media platforms. They were least willing to share Social Security numbers, financial information and medical information.

    2. Consumers are less concerned about privacy today

    Overall, concerns over privacy have waned over the past year. The number of consumers who very frequently stop using retailers over privacy concerns dropped from 50% in 2021 to 47%. Men and younger people, however, remain more concerned about privacy than women and older people. 

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    3. People trust familiarity, not the media

    The majority of respondents (83%) put the most trust in people like themselves, followed by scientists and technical experts (72%) and their local police (69%).

    People are also most likely to trust banks and financial institutions, doctors and hospitals with their data rather than other institutions. Meanwhile, advertising, media and Congress achieve the lowest trust scores, averaging less than 40%.

    “Despite the recent proposal of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, it’s still unclear whether federal privacy legislation will be implemented in the not-so-distant future,” ARF’s chief research officer Paul Donato said in a statement. “Although many bodies are concerned with the impact this legislation will have on the advertising industry, our findings show that there is a path forward because most consumers are generally onboard with relevant advertising and willing to share an array of information ... to experience it.”

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