Generation Z Revolts against Big Data Collection

by Jeff Wiener on September 4, 2015

For several weeks now we’ve been writing about the controversial practice of Big Data collection, analysis, and deployment in marketing and customer relationship management. We’ve discussed the positives of Big Data, in particular the benefit that relevant, individualized, targeted marketing can have for both the business world and consumers alike, and we’ve discussed the negatives of data collection, in particular that unsettling feeling you get when an advertisement pop-ups from the website you just left and you realize you’re being followed.

But what we really haven’t heard yet is what people actually think about Big Data collection and whether or not they’re willing to endure these awkward early days of targeted advertising for the promise of a better, more personalized, more relevant tomorrow…turns out they’re not.

In a survey released by UK-based KPMG Media Tracker, a staggering majority of consumers, some 95%, who use online services do not want media companies to share their personal information with third parties. Not only that, but respondents among Generation Z (18-24 yr olds), who are often thought of as the more digitally complacent generation, were even more opposed to their personal data being bought or sold. Simply put, for consumers to start feeling comfortable about targeted advertising, they’re going to have to see some benefit for them…and quick.

As mentioned, the survey found that 95% of consumers are unwilling for media companies to share their data with third parties, irrespective of the benefits offered in return, and that among 18-24 year olds, that dissent rises to 97%, with respondents noting privacy concerns as their reason for opposing data collection.

As KPMG media head David Elmsnotes, that’s not great news for an advertising industry looking for ways to personalize ads for online viewers.

“This questions the assumption that the younger generation is comfortable sharing their data if there are benefits offered in return. Generation Z places a high price on privacy, and while some personalization may be welcome to improve their viewing experience, they are not prepared to readily offer up their data.

“There has been increasing discussion of the use of consumer data for higher levels of personalization particularly around advertising but this survey highlights that most consumers would resist the use of their data for such purposes.”

Now the paradoxical news regarding Big Data collection and marketing deployment is that the online advertising business is actually growing exponentially. I would think that if there really was this widespread backlash against data collection and advertising that we would see those numbers stagnate, or even decline. But that’s simply not the case.

But that being said, this survey simply adds credence to what I’ve been saying all along, that for advertisers to truly incorporate data analysis into the process they will need to find a way to better hit their marks, and do so in more a relevant (and distinctly less creepy) manner.

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