Survey: Tracking Fears Are Real, But Consumers Grasp Value Exchange

Consumers aren’t as worried about privacy issues and have started to embrace companies targeting them with ads and offers when those messages are relevant, according to Accenture Interactive. In fact, consumers now turn to mobile and personalized targeted offers and marketing elements while shopping and researching purchases.

After surveying 2,000 customers in the U.S. and U.K., Accenture Interactive found that 86% of respondents in those countries said they were worried about websites tracking their actions, but 85% of respondents also said they understood that it is a necessary tactic to properly target consumers.

Additionally, 64% of all respondents told Accenture that it was more important to receive relevant offers, while only 36% said they want companies to stop tracking them all together. In the U.S. only, the numbers shift slightly to 61% for personalization and 39% for privacy.

“Relevance is a key part of the new consumer experience. It’s a new requirement,” Glen Hartman, global managing director of digital consulting at Accenture Interactive, told AdExchanger. “The idea of being able to serve up more relevant information is a more nuanced part of personalization. Relevance is based on where they are in the consideration or purchase experience.”

One element of this shift away from privacy, Hartman said, is trust. Consumers trust that if they give up a bit of privacy, the company will provide something of value in return. If they do, the company can gain a loyal customer, but if they don’t, he said, the customers will opt out or go elsewhere.

While 64% of respondents, for example, said they would be willing to receive a text message with an offer or deal when they walk into a store, almost all respondents, 88%, said companies should give customers flexibility to control how their personal information is used.

“The consumer lifecycle has changed,” Hartman said, highlighting that social media allows consumers to interact with brands on their terms. “There is a lot of interaction on social channels and peer-to-peer recommendations, because people trust that source. If consumers are engaging on a cell phone or on Facebook, they are more confortable because of a customized experience that fits their liking.”

Accenture’s study also found that 93% of U.S. consumers are more likely to purchase a product from a company that has a presence on social media, and 75% said the same thing of a company that makes use of mobile apps. And while consumers have become more comfortable interacting with brands via social networks and mobile devices, they are also becoming more comfortable with using that constant connection to their advantage.

Of U.S. consumers, 65% said they compare product prices on their phone or tablet while in the store, and 55% said they will look for a product online, go into a store to see it in person, but still go home to purchase the item online.

This trend of “showrooming” is a challenge to companies, particularly retailers. But, Hartman said, it is a symptom of a larger issue marketers have, which is making the most of multi-channel and multi-device marketing.

“With this whole customer experience and how people engage now, the cross-channel connection needs to match up more and become more relevant,” he said. “You have to get better at data and analytics, and you have to have an understanding of not just marketing to people through multiple channels, but really using data, analytics and customer service to drive true multichannel experiences that relate to each other.”


Enjoying this content?

Sign up to be an AdExchanger Member today and get unlimited access to articles like this, plus proprietary data and research, conference discounts, on-demand access to event content, and more!

Join Today!


  1. Great article. Specifically in regards to targeted Display advertising, one thing that always comes to mind when people mention consumers’ privacy concerns is the question of “Do the consumers actually understand what data is being tracked?”. Speaking as someone fairly new to the Ad Tech industry, I believe consumers’ privacy fears are rooted in the “Oh no, anybody can track everything I put into the internet including all my personal details” without realising that in fact all that’s tracked is a series of website visits and interactions from a particular browser that’s only identified by a unique number.

    I believe that you would find an inverse relationship between a consumer’s privacy worries and their level of knowledge about what is actually tracked & how, with the more educated about tracking the less worried about their privacy.

  2. Very interesting article. What I found particularly interesting was the point that consumers have started to embrace companies targeting them with ads and offers when those messages are relevant. This claim is supported by our recent ChoiceStream Personalization Survey, that found that 52% of shoppers prefer sites that provide product recommendations, while nearly 22% of consumers said they “recently made a purchase after seeing a product that was recommended to them online.”