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'Dirty data' threat to marketers

News, 10 July 2015

LONDON: Surveys often highlight consumers' privacy concerns regarding the information they give to brands but less remarked is the proportion of consumers – more than half – who are supplying false data as a way of protecting themselves.

A study of more than 2,400 UK consumers by research company Verve found that 60% intentionally provided wrong information when submitting personal details online, Marketing Week reported.

Almost one quarter (23%) said they sometimes gave out incorrect dates of birth, for example, while 9% said they did this most of the time and 5% always did it.

The figures were broadly similar for the provision of email addresses, while significant proportions were also ready to muddy the waters with regard to home addresses, phone numbers, job titles and company names.

In what is now a common refrain, Colin Strong, Verve managing director, noted that marketers often failed to explain properly to consumers what they were getting in return for their information.

"But people see the immediate effects of being put on more marketing lists and being pursued by online advertising and email spam," he said.

And that was one of the main reasons for giving out false data. Three quarters of respondents indicated that they wanted to stop the company marketing to them while two thirds wanted to prevent online advertising.

Some were taking the opposite tack, supplying false information in order to track how companies were using that material. A minority also admitted they liked to "mess up" company databases.

Privacy remains the primary concern, however, cited by 81%, while significant proportions also thought the information being requested was intrusive (77%) or unnecessary (76%).

Earlier this year a study by Experian Marketing Services suggested that a high degree of inaccurate information – US firms surveyed thought around one third of their data was inaccurate – was limiting data insight and having a negative impact on the bottom line.

Data sourced from Marketing Week, Experian; additional content by Warc staff