The proliferation of digital, content-driven devices and channels (mobile, smart TVs, social media, etc.) have reinforced a notion that consumers prefer, even expect, personalized experiences. New research says this notion may be more complicated than that.

While global internet users find some types of personalization appealing, there’s no consensus on what tactic is most desirable. Further, in 2018, only 29% of users surveyed in the U.S. and Europe thought that providing more data to companies leads to better products and services, down from 31% in 2017.

Personalization is nuanced by how advertisers derive their tactics and how consumers can perceive them. As we learn more about if, how and why consumers want personalization in the context of data privacy, it’s our responsibility to listen and respond accordingly. 

Advertisers need data and analysis to learn about consumer personalization preferences., Inc. uses browsing and purchase behavior, in part, to power its product recommendation engine. A restaurant chain might use loyalty program data to improve promotional offers. Some brands use identity data to recognize consumers across touchpoints. 

With so many potentially relevant use-cases to collect and activate data, it’s imperative that a strong campaign objective precedes and informs any data strategy to help ensure only what’s necessary is collected.

The data and technology in our ecosystem give advertisers a lot of power that the industry would be wise to guard against mismanagement. A 2019 data security and privacy survey from RSA found the majority of U.S. and U.K. consumers fear losing control over their information. In addition to minimizing the data advertisers collect to be more purposeful, discerning participants in the adtech and martech industry will listen to consumer fears, preferences and trends. 

Research is beginning to identify an understanding gap between consumer perception of data and expectation of personalization. The industry would be well advised to educate and empower consumers and each other via clear privacy notices, transparency and consent options. 

Data, technology and advertising have become irreversibly intertwined and the adtech and martech ecosystem has a responsibility to practice ethical data governance, thoughtful usage of technology and relevant advertising as the pretext for personalization.

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About The Author

David Dowhan is founder and CEO of TruSignal, a TransUnion company. TruSignal is expert at using offline data and predictive score marketing to fuel digital campaigns, partnering with data providers, media companies, DSPs and digital audience hubs to help power their custom, people-based lookalikes, consumer insight dashboards, and bid-price optimization strategies.