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    43% of Americans still accept all cookies despite growing privacy concerns, per new study

    US consumers are rejecting cookies, and incentives to share their data, at greater levels than in the past. As part of our Data and Privacy Deep Dive, we dig into an exclusive new study conducted by The Drum and YouGov Survey Direct.

    The expiration date for cookies is dragging on. In the meantime, consumers are being asked to make important decisions regarding how, and when, they share their data. Despite 81% of Americans saying they are concerned about how websites are using their data, a significant 43% simply accept all cookies.

    “Americans are hesitant to share personal data, with four in five saying they are concerned with websites using that information,” says Ray Martin, chief executive, YouGov America. “Despite that hesitancy, nearly half say that they accept all cookies when sites ask them to, and more than a third claim that they would exchange personal information for special discounts and offerings.”

    Indeed, 35% of the 1,000 US adult consumers polled say they are comfortable sharing personal information with a website in exchange for a discount, while 55% of respondents were not interested.

    Interestingly, only 33% of Americans are comfortable sharing personal information with a website for a better online experience; three in five were not comfortable.

    “We must move to a privacy-by-design internet, and not a privacy-by-compliance one. This means we fully acknowledge consumer privacy preferences and honor them by the letter and spirit of what’s being asked,” says Jay Friedman, president, Goodway Group. “In a privacy-by-design era, we must better articulate the value exchange required for websites people love to stay financially healthy. Once articulated, consumers can choose to pay for content with money, pay with data that enables better cross-site addressability, or to not be provided access to the content.”

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    Appetities for cookies begin to wane 

    There are some significant trends illustrated in what is now the second year of this study. Last year, a full 50% of consumers said they will accept all cookies. The 7% drop off to only 43% is an indicator that marketers must take heed of.

    “The data supports a trend towards a cookie-less future, underscoring the need for advertisers to invest in media with adtech partners that can still serve relevant ads while respecting personal data,” says Dan Rosenfeld, senior vice-president, advertising analytics and insights at DirecTV Advertising. “Advertisers must prioritize consumer privacy and make sure they ask questions about how their partners are sourcing and protecting personal data.”

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    Last year, 44% of consumers were willing to swap personal data for incentives. This year it is 35%. Clearly there is a trend toward consumers protecting their information more closely.

    “The results are interesting but not surprising. People understand that a value exchange is taking place when they share data with brands and publishers, whether it’s more personalized experiences, easier shopping or discounted products,” says Matt Feczko, vice-president of product management at Epsilon. “At the same time, people recognize that their data can be mishandled, resulting in privacy and security risks.”

    The majority of respondents (62%) say they have a good, or somewhat good, understanding of website cookies. This is actually down a point from the 63% polled last year.

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    “This research reflects the tension between consumers’ need for privacy and personalization of brand experiences,” says Alex Southworth, vice-president, sales and marketing business, Dun & Bradstreet. “To be successful in this new world, marketers need to solidify new strategies, with a focus on first-party data, to deliver a more personalized and connected experience across online and offline channels, with the aim of building trusted relationships between a brand and its customers.”

    Check out The Drum’s Data and Privacy Deep Dive for more.

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