Consumers have become less willing to share various points of personal information over the last year, according to a study by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), the trade body.

Based on an online survey of 1,105 adults, the ARF found that the number of people willing to share their home address had fallen by ten percentage points compared with a similar poll conducted last year.

This decline stood at eight percentage points for their spouse’s first and last name, seven percentage points for a personal email address and six percentage points for their first and last name.

In assessing the types of information respondents were least likely to share, social security numbers topped the list, along with financial and medical information, their work address, home address, and phone numbers.

Offering a customised experience in exchange, the analysis revealed, did not yield a significant shift in the information that survey participants were willing to share.

More specifically, although these consumers understood the benefits of personalised advertising, they did not place a high value on this outcome, and generally had little understanding of the ways it is accomplished.

Comprehension of terms like “local storage”, “server logs”, “first-party data” and “third-party data” was mixed, the ARF found. Hispanic respondents, the trade body discovered, displayed higher levels of understanding than other ethnic groups.

Paul Donato, the ARF’s chief research officer, argued the introduction of legislation like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which will let consumers opt out of the sale of information to third parties, is important to consider alongside changing consumer attitudes.

“It is also worth exploring in more detail why the American people do not see the value in sharing data to improve personalisation of advertising messages,” he said. “In spite of that, more relevant advertising is one of the few reasons the public would consent to share their data.”

Among the survey’s broader findings were that online PC usage is declining, including a year-on-year decrease of seven points for both researching purchases and buying items. Email remains the most common usage for these devices.

For mobile apps, email usage has grown by 11 percentage points on an annual basis. Accessing social media was up nine percentage points here, while gaming and activities related to financial services were both up eight percentage points.

Sourced from WARC