A new survey of 1,000 U.S. adults discovered both concern and ignorance regarding online privacy and personal data protection. Conducted by Tealium, the survey found 97% of respondents are somewhat or very concerned about protecting their personal data.

Not paying close attention. By the same token, most consumers (62%) generally don’t read online terms or privacy policies. And nearly 70% of respondents had not heard of GDPR or CCPA. The 38% who say they do read online privacy policies is likely an “aspirational” finding, meaning many people are stating they read online terms when they in fact do not.

(Related: Think CCPA doesn’t apply to you? Think again.)

There were a number of other, seemingly contradictory data points in the survey, indicating consumer confusion or ambivalence about privacy.

Seeking strict privacy regulations, but open to deals. For example, 91% said they wanted government to “adopt strict regulations” to protect their data. However, 59% believed businesses were currently doing a “good job” handling their data; and 71% of people said total control over personal data isn’t possible. In addition, 43% said they would provide “detailed data about themselves to a retailer for a discount.”

These numbers, and similar data from other surveys, suggest that consumer privacy decision-making is highly contextual and situational. In other words, consumers are concerned about privacy in the abstract but will sacrifice it and make different choices based on the immediate context in front of them. That could be seen either as rational or arbitrary, depending on your perspective.

Making privacy easier to understand. The Tealium report contains lots of practical advice for brands and retailers about how to address privacy, as well as gain and maintain consumer trust. Accordingly the report says that nearly three-fourths (72%) of consumers would read privacy policies if they were shorter; 61% would read them if they were more “straightforward.” And 45% wanted to see examples of how their personal data was being used by brands.

Why we should care. The Tealium survey shows strong concern but also confusion about privacy. However, an earlier BritePool survey found that 87% of respondents would select a “Do Not Sell My Data” option if they encountered it on a website. When CCPA comes into effect in less than a month, we can assume lots of people will pursue it.

While this won’t affect first party data collection and use, publishers and brands still need to forcefully address privacy to build consumer trust and confidence. That will turn out to be a competitive advantage going forward.

More about CCPA and consumer privacy regulation

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.


One would think that with more than 7,000 martech tools available to create exceptional digital customer experiences, businesses would have little trouble building a marketing stack that delivers a seamless customer journey — but that doesn’t appear to be the case, according to Simpler Media’s latest State of Digital Experience report.

Of the 325 digital customer experience executives surveyed by Simpler Media, 79% said digital customer experience (DCX) was an extremely or very high priority for their organization. Yet, nearly half (46%) reported they had yet to invest in personalization tools or had no budget in place for such technology. Just 9% said they are using personalization tools, while 27% said they are testing them.

How would you describe your organization’s use of digital customer experience personalization tools?

“We can’t take personalization out of the broader digital experience,” said Siobhan Fagan, managing editor of CMSWire. Fagan presented the report findings during her keynote at the DX Summit in Chicago. “You need, of course, the technology that makes it all possible.”

The 9% figure is actually a drop from last year when 14% said they were seeing results with personalization — not a strong sign in terms of how personalization tools or their utilization have evolved over the past year.

Businesses want more customer insights, but fail to utilize metrics

Prioritizing DCX, but not personalization tools, wasn’t the only disconnect revealed by the report.

Ninety percent of the DCX executives surveyed said they lacked insights that explain why their customers are doing what they’re doing, with only 11% reporting that they understood their customers’ behavior well — 33% rated their understanding of their customer behavior as poor. Fifty-two percent said they “moderately” understood their customer behavior (which, honestly, sounds only slightly better than “meh”).

At the same time, the majority of the survey respondents (57%) reported they were using just three or fewer metrics. Of the companies using one to two metrics, 54% claimed the “effectiveness” of their measurement tools needed work. For the companies using three to four metrics, 48% said the “effectiveness” of the tools needed work.

This may be changing, however. When asked to name their organization’s DCX investment priorities, 59% — the largest share — listed analytics, insights and dashboarding. Also, nearly a third of the survey respondents said improved analytics was a top customer data management priority for their organization.

Silos are a top challenge for DCX teams

When listing their top challenges in terms of creating and implementing effective DCX efforts, 47% said siloed systems and fragmented customer data and 42% reported limited cross-department alignment and collaboration. Arguably, these two challenges — siloed systems and limited cross-department alignment — could fit under the same umbrella. In other words, a large majority of DCX professionals want more connectivity across organization departments.

This finding backs up customer experience expert Kerry Bodine’s premise that silos are the biggest obstacle in the customer journey. While silos may enable businesses to make things happen at scale that would otherwise be impossible, they are terrible for customers who are trying to accomplish different tasks, says Bodine.

The DCX industry’s take on martech

Looking at the nuts and bolts of the systems used to create digital customer experiences, 46% said their current platforms and tools need work. Forty-one percent said the tools they used were satisfactory and 13% reported they worked well. At the same time, 60% reported they were currently evaluating, upgrading or shopping for new CMS platforms or digital experience platforms. Translation: There are more DCX executives who are either not happy — or would rate their tools “satisfactory” — than the number of executives actually looking to invest in new platforms.

Interestingly, on the CDP front, 23% reported having already purchased a CDP, and more than a third (34%) are evaluating options. Meanwhile, 13% have decided against a CDP and 28% are undecided. It’s a close split, but the fact that more DCX executives are either already committed to using — or are evaluating — a CDP shows the industry is open to adopting systems that can help build a unified view of the customer.

“Nobody wants to go back to the days when customers are viewed and treated the same,” said Fagan from the DX Summit stage, “We need to look at our digital experience efforts as part of a bigger whole, not piecemealed together.”

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.


Two recent surveys sponsored by BritePool show a high level of consumer concern about privacy and, if given the option, that a majority would decline to allow online publishers to sell or transfer their personal information. CCPA, which takes effect on January 1, requires sites governed by the statute to include a prominent “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link on their homepages.

Most would choose ‘Do Not Sell.’ In September, BritePool and the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations found, in a survey of 1,004 U.S. adults, that nearly 90% of respondents would select a “Do Not Sell” option if they encountered it on a website. The survey specifically asked the following:

“A number of new regulations have been proposed to help strengthen consumer online privacy. In the state of California, when consumers arrive at a new website, they will have the option to select ‘Do Not Sell My Personal Information’. Would you select ‘Do Not Sell My Personal Information’, or just go on to the website?”

  • I would select Do Not Sell My Personal Information” — 87%
  • I would just go on to the website — 8%
  • Don’t know — 6%

The September survey was a follow-up to an earlier more general survey about attitudes toward online privacy and personal data. Conducted in March with 1,513 U.S. respondents, that survey posed several questions about the sharing and sale of personal data:

 “I am unhappy that companies are profiting from my personal data.”

  • Strongly agree — 46%
  • Somewhat agree — 33%
  • Somewhat disagree — 11%
  • Strongly disagree — 5%
  • Don’t know — 5%

“I am concerned about companies selling my data to advertisers and other companies.”

  • Strongly agree — 47%
  • Somewhat agree — 35%
  • Somewhat disagree — 10%
  • Strongly disagree — 3%
  • Don’t know — 4%

“There is no good reason that a website should ever share my personal data.”

  • Strongly agree — 51%
  • Somewhat agree — 29%
  • Somewhat disagree — 12%
  • Strongly disagree — 4%
  • Don’t know — 4%

Consumers not happy about personal data sharing. Though some consumers have indicated they’re open to a value exchange. It’s worth noting that the March survey gave consumers the additional choice of giving their personal information in exchange for a reward. Roughly 1 in 5 consumers chose that option.

“A number of new regulations have been proposed to help strengthen consumer online privacy. In the State of California, when consumers arrive at a new website, they will have the option to select ‘Do Not Sell My Personal Information’ or they can select ‘Reward Me for My Personal Information’. Would you select ‘Do Not Sell My Personal Information’, ‘Reward Me for My Personal Information’, or just go on to the website?”

  • I would select ‘Do Not Sell My Personal Information’ — 61%
  • I would select ‘Reward Me for My Personal Information’ — 21%
  • I would just go on to the website — 7%
  • Don’t know — 10%

Drilling into the responses by different age groups, younger consumers were more open to data sharing than older respondents. The people most receptive to sharing were those in the 18-34 age category, only 49% of whom said they would choose “Do Not Sell.”

Bob Perkins, COO of BritePool argues, based on these findings, that CCPA is actually going to have a bigger impact than GDPR. “You’ll see 3% to 4% decline in publisher revenue” because CPMs fall when targeting signals aren’t available. He also believes that as privacy laws develop across the U.S., “CCPA will be the floor not the ceiling” when it comes to rules around data collection and sharing.

Why we should care. The results of these surveys should be very concerning to publishers and martech providers. However, there is always a difference between attitudes and behavior. So the actual number of opt-outs could be less. But there are also encouraging results and data for those companies affirmatively embracing consumer privacy.

In addition, the findings about being rewarded suggest a meaningful percentage of consumers could be convinced to not opt-out in exchange for specific benefits. This echoes many other previous surveys that have similar findings.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.


Highly anticipated, it’s now official. State attorneys general have launched formal probes of Google and Facebook. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will lead an investigation of alleged anti-competitive behavior by Google and, separately, New York Attorney General Letitia James is spearheading another multistate probe into Facebook. The latter was announced last week.

The states pile on. The Google investigation, made formal today, is supported by 48 attorneys general. The Facebook investigation so far has the support of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

According to the statement issued today by the Texas attorney general’s office, “The bipartisan coalition announced plans to investigate Google’s overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anti-competitive behavior that harms consumers.”

AGs will cooperate and coordinate with the feds. The Texas AG also said that the multistate Google investigation will “work in cooperation with Federal authorities.” The House and Senate are both investigating the major technology companies and the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have divided up jurisdiction over investigations pending into Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

But Google is clearly getting the lion’s share of attention.

According to legal experts the states have a range of tools, tactics and potential remedies at their disposal. Among them:

  • Push the feds to be tougher in their investigation and negotiations with Google
  • Engage in their own discovery and settlement talks with Google
  • Sue in federal court under federal antitrust laws seeking an independent remedy, if they don’t like any potential deal struck between Google and the feds and they can’t strike a deal

Online advertising and ‘consumer harm’ under scrutiny. As indicated, the investigations will focus on whether and how much control Google (and Facebook) are exercising over the digital advertising market and whether they have acquired companies to thwart competition. Google’s share of online advertising this year will be roughly 37% and Facebook’s is 22% according to eMarketer estimates. But when Amazon is included, the combined share of digital ad dollars flowing to the big three reaches nearly 70%.

One way to see the state AG action is as a kind of insurance policy against insufficiently aggressive federal action. In 2013, the FTC settled its antitrust case against Google with what some considered a slap on the wrist. Others believed it was the right outcome. The multistate action will be “looking over the shoulder” of the feds even as the two seek to coordinate their efforts.

Past and current statements issued by several individual state AGs also suggest that at least some of them have already decided Google is harming competition and are looking beyond liability to remedies. But proving liability in the context of potential litigation is another matter.

Why we should care. Google takes the position that it operates in a highly competitive environment, with Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon (and others) all competing intensely with the company in different markets. Google will point to the eMarketer 37% figure as per se evidence that it doesn’t dominate or control digital advertising in the U.S.

Google has also historically argued that its behavior is intended to and does benefit consumers. Indeed, it will be challenging to show consumer harm from Google’s actions, the traditional antitrust standard. But the apparent absence of consumer harm has not stopped the European Commission from fining Google roughly $9 billion and seeking changes in the company’s business practices (these fines and rulings are being appealed by Google).

As mentioned, there’s a presumption of liability among some of the investigating authorities. Let’s say the investigators determine there is anti-competitive behavior, the question of remedies, which the Europeans have been struggling with, is what will be most challenging here. How tough will they be? And will they involve “unwinding” any acquisitions?

If Google doesn’t negotiate a settlement, then we could be in for years of court battles. But it’s a safe bet that the company wouldn’t settle unless terms were relatively favorable for the company — as they were in 2013 — something the states are probably intervening to prevent.

About The Author

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There’s an ongoing debate about the role of telephone sales and whether they’re effective anymore. Many pundits have long asserted that “cold calling is dead,” but is any form of outcalling or inside sales effective now?

Declining success rates. A new survey and report from Zipwhip (registration required), intended to promote messaging, argues the phone as a channel is experiencing decreasing effectiveness for multiple reasons. Indeed, plenty of anecdotal evidence indicates reaching prospects over the phone is a growing problem across markets, whether the targets are consumers or b2b buyers.

Widely cited data from separate studies argue that fewer than 2% of cold calls result in meetings and that cold calling is ineffective more than 90% of the time. But these statistics are from old studies that don’t appear to be available anymore, only the passing third-party citations. Yet these assertions appear to support anecdotal experience.

Conversely, there are some who still argue that cold calling can be successful if done properly.

87% mostly ignore calls. The Zipwhip survey (n=520 U.S. adults) found that 87% of respondents said they ignore phone calls from unknown numbers “often” or “very often.”

How often do you ignore/reject phone calls from businesses and unknown numbers?

has said will represent about 45% of mobile calls in the U.S. this year. This rise in spam is leading to various anti-call-spam solutions and just plain call avoidance by consumers. Indeed, the top piece of advice from the FCC to combat mobile phone spam is: “Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.”

The Zipwhip study goes on to explore the various reasons people don’t want to answer the phone. Among them, people are too busy, calls are intrusive or they prefer to communicate in other ways.

Select why you avoid phone calls from businesses/unknown numbers (select all that apply)

phone was the preferred channel for consumers to contact local businesses. And a recent survey from Broadly found that a majority of small businesses see the phone as their most important channel.

Why we should care. There’s an overall sense that tried-and-true sales channels (e.g., email) are declining in effectiveness. As the data above show, this is also true for calls — when they’re unsolicited. While some stubborn sales executives might say cold calls have a role to play, the evidence argues this approach is getting less efficient and more expensive over time.

One response (now almost a cliche) is that in-bound marketing is the answer and dramatically improves telephone close rates. But as most marketers already well understand, brands need to diversify their prospecting and communications strategies to reach audiences through the channels they prefer. Taking pressure off the phone enables it to become much more effective in this “don’t call me” era.

About The Author

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