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Consumers have had a low level of trust in advertisers for years and that lack of trust has not changed. In fact, recent research [download page] by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) shows that only 27% of the 1,100 US consumers surveyed say they trust advertising as an institution, only slightly more than those respondents who trust the US Congress.

Distrust in advertising does not reside only with Americans. A global study by Kantar Media earlier this year revealed that when asked what sources of brand information they trust, only one-third (33%) of respondents said they used and trusted advertising as a source.

Perhaps as a result of this mistrust, consumers are not willing to share much of their personal data that may be used by advertisers. As a matter of fact, the ARF found that consumers are somewhat less likely to share personal information with a website this year than they were in 2018.

Even when enticed with benefits such as a more personalized experience, consumers do not show any more willingness to share their personal data. In most cases, respondents were even less likely to share certain types of information when they were told that the data would be used to create a more personalized experience. This could because the majority of consumers feel that businesses reap more of the benefits of an exchange of personal data than consumers themselves.

What Data Are Consumers Willing to Share?

Consumers are more willing to part with certain information than others. The vast majority (93%) of survey respondents are willing to share their gender. Race or ethnicity (91%) also appears to be personal data that respondents are willing to share, although fewer (85%) say they would share it if it would lead to a more personalized experience.

A high number of respondents also say they are willing to share their marital status (85%), employment status (82%), citizenship status (79%) and sexual orientation (79%).

Data that consumers are far less willing to share tends to be of a far more personal nature and is, in most cases, a matter of common sense. Only 10% of respondents say they are willing to share their social security number.

Respondents were also less likely to share financial information (20%) and medical information (26%). Surprisingly, these two types of information (along with home address) were the only types of information that respondents were more willing to share when told it was for a more personalized experience.

You can download the report here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 1,100 US consumers during the week of March 26, 2019.

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