LONDON: Many Britons are open to the idea of personal digital assistants helping them across a wide range of tasks, but they remain sceptical about the personalisation of marketing in general, new research shows.

The Digital Innovation: Surviving the Next Wave of Change report was compiled from representative surveys among 250,000 Britons across the year that created a database with more than 190,000 data points about consumers' attitudes, behaviours and brand use.

This found that more than four in ten consumers would let a personal digital assistant either help them with or undertake activities such as the upkeep of their vehicle (43%), monitoring their diet or fitness (both 43%), recommending holidays (42%), and suggesting new things to try (41%).

And more than a third would let them assist with or do such tasks such as recommending leisure activities (38%), sorting out home finances (35%), and assisting with grocery shopping (34%).

"If consumers feel they will benefit, they will share a wealth of information through these technologies with brands," said Stephen Harmston, Head of YouGov Reports.

"This could allow marketers to be much more subtle in how they tailor ads and information to individuals and could even end up feeding directly into the development of new products."

And subtlety will surely be required since almost half (45%) of British consumers are not comfortable with personalisation of the information, recommendations and advertising they receive.

That sentiment is most strongly felt in older age groups: 49% of 45-54 year-olds and 56% of those over 55, compared to 38% of 25-34 year-olds and just 25% of 18-24 year-olds.

The antipathy to personalisation is especially felt in advertising, where YouGov Profiles data show that more than half (54%) of Britons feel "creeped out" by personalised adverts and almost six in ten (57%) state that seeing ads that are too personal can "put me off clicking on them".

Harmston added that times of great technological change invariably bring corporate casualties as businesses fail to adapt.

"Not understanding or appreciating the opportunities and challenges afforded by the likes of personal digital assistants could set some brands apart from their rivals – and not in a good way," he observed.

Data sourced from YouGov; additional content by Warc staff