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Janrain-Consumer-Attitudes-Irrelevant-Website-Content-July2013Most marketers around the world believe that personalization of the web experience is critical, even if most of them aren’t sure how to go about doing so. New survey results from Janrain suggest that within the US, being shown irrelevant content can drive consumers away: 74% of respondents claim to get frustrated with websites when content, offers, ads, and promotions appear that have nothing to do with their interests. Still, consumers need assurances that their personal data will be handled responsibly.

According to the survey results, 57% of respondents are fine with providing personal information on a website as long as it’s for their benefit and being used in responsible ways. How do they know? 77% would trust businesses more if they explained how they’re leveraging that data to improve their online experience.

While it seems that consumers are ready to trust businesses with their information, they’re just as willing to abandon them online if they’re being shown irrelevant content. For example, two-thirds said they’d leave a site if asked for donations from a political party that they dislike the most, 57% would leave if they were married and shown ads for a dating service, and half would leave if shown a recommendation to purchase underwear that is for the opposite gender. A tough crowd, to be sure.

The study results paint a picture of a more eager consumer than other research. For example, a recent study from Adobe and Edelman Berland indicated that 30% of US consumers believe that a website recognizing them is an invasion of privacy. Another study from Consumer Action suggested that only about one-quarter of Americans saw no harm in being tracked if it resulted in their being shown more relevant ads.

What’s more, the Janrain study finds a subset of consumers for whom personalized content appears to be really important. Surprisingly, more than one-quarter would give up social networks for a week in order to receive appropriate content based on their personal interests on all of their favorite websites. One-quarter would give up chocolate for a month, and 21% would give up their mobile or smartphone for a day. The question really is, though, how many would give up their personal information? The study suggests that figure is near 60%, though there’s probably room for argument on that front.

About the Data: The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Janrain from June 28 ”“ July 2, 2013 among 2,091 US adults ages 18 and older.

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