8 in 10 Americans concerned about online data privacy, but 48% trust zero-party data collection

8 in 10 Americans concerned about online data privacy, but 48% trust zero-party data collection Duncan is an award-winning technology industry analyst, specialising in cloud computing, blockchain, martech and edge computing.

With third-party cookie-less marketing nearly here, a new research report released today finds an overwhelming majority of Americans distrust brands when it comes to their data privacy.

Attest, a leading consumer research platform finds that 84% of Americans are concerned about data privacy when interacting with brands online (including 41% who are “very concerned”). 

This concern about intrusive data gathering and disconcertingly personal advertisements appears to be universal also. Of those surveyed, 55-64-year-olds showed the highest concentration of worry about their data privacy (at 87%), yet even digital natives aged 18-24 (82%) stated their unease with how their information is gathered by brands online. 

Consumers pull back on sharing data

The Zero-Party Data Revolution report reveals that weary consumers are even pulling back what they share and that there is now an unwillingness to divulge personal data. 

Eight in ten (85%) consumers opt out of being added to a company’s mailing list at least some of the time, while 58% say they do it habitually (opting out “always” or “most of the time”). 

Beyond mailing lists, the data shows that nearly a third of consumers (31%) would, if asked, reject non-essential website cookies. Consumers who decline cookies are most likely to do so because they don’t want to be targeted with advertising and because they don’t trust the website with their data (both at 36%). Meanwhile, over a quarter (27%) have concerns about hackers stealing their data. Surprisingly, Gen Z over-indexed for not trusting websites regarding their data privacy (at 52%).

In addition, the type of brand and its sector can have a distinct impact on consumer willingness to share data via first-party cookies. Consumers are more likely to opt out of cookies on social media websites (47%), potentially due to perceptions of high levels of advertising on these platforms and a history of poor data privacy protections. 

Likelihood to opt-out of first-party cookies by website type

  • Social media websites: 47%
  • Travel websites: 42%
  • Food and beverage websites: 40%
  • Financial services and retail websites: Both at 39%

Demand for greater data privacy – Premium ad-free subscriptions 

Companies are reacting and providing ad-free options in direct response to consumers’ wishes for improved data privacy. In October 2023, Meta introduced its first, paid ad-free subscription in Europe and it could be extended to the US in the future. With this monthly subscription, users can enjoy Facebook and Instagram without any ads.

Attest’s data finds that nearly a quarter of consumers in the US (23%) would be likely to subscribe to such an offering, even at a relatively high price point of over $13/$14 (the subscription is currently priced at €12.99 in Europe). Gen Z Americans, in particular, show high intent to subscribe to the service (40% of those aged 18-24), meaning advertisers would no longer be able to reach them on Instagram, one of this demographic’s most-used platforms. 

Consumers’ views on zero-party data – Increased trust

The final part of this research report delves into attitudes toward zero-party data, whereby consumers actively and willingly share their data to help brands shape products and services, as opposed to it being collected passively via cookies.

  • Data privacy: 48% stated they would be more likely to “trust” those brands who collected zero-party data. 
  • Brand’s website and interacting on social: Consumers would be more at ease using a brand’s website (57%) as well as interacting on social media (53%) if zero-party collection was used. 
  • Mailing lists: With such increased trust created, 49% would be willing to subscribe to a brand’s mailing list. 

Given that zero-party data involves explicitly asking consumers for information, this is done through interactive data collection methods. Attest sought to uncover which methods consumers preferred the most, finding:

  • Interactive surveys top the poll: 47% of respondents say interactive surveys are their preferred way for a brand to capture data about them, followed by loyalty cards (i.e. purchase history), while 27% like online forms. Cookies and customer chat services/chatbots were at the bottom of preferences (at 18%).
  • Popular amongst all groups: Consumer surveys are the most popular data collection method across all age groups; 66% of consumers aged 18-24 say they prefer them, as do 41% of those aged 55-64. 

The Zero-Party Data Revolution report surveyed 1,500 nationally representative US consumers and the research coincides with the sunsetting of third-party cookies on Google Chrome this year, marking one of the biggest shifts in digital advertising since the invention of the cookie back in 1992. 

With this latest research report, Attest aims to empower marketers on why this change represents a transformative chance to use an alternative data source, zero-party data, to continue to reach target audiences, regain trust, and create ads that are persuasive instead of invasive. 

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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