83% of consumers now aware of marketers tracking their locations — study

The Blis report also found that a majority of consumers would charge a marketer at least $10 to access their personal data.

How aware are consumers of businesses’ use of their personal data (location tracking in particular) and how do they feel about it? These are questions location-intelligence company Blis sought to answer in a recent survey. The company polled 2,000 U.S. adults in November 2018.

Public awareness of data collection way up. The majority of people (63 percent) are now much more aware that marketers are using their personal data as compared with a year ago, likely due to stepped up reporting about various data breaches and scandals. Beyond this, 83 percent of survey respondents said that they were aware that companies “actively track their location data.”

Consumers have a layered or somewhat nuanced view of location tracking. The audience breaks into three groups: those who’ve disabled location tracking (33 percent), those who have permanently enabled it (29 percent) and those in the middle (38 percent) who will sometimes enable it when prompted.

Conditions for sharing location. The survey then asked a subset of respondents why they had not disabled location tracking. Among that group, 41 percent said they didn’t mind having their locations tracked; another 40 percent said they didn’t know how to disable it or weren’t aware their locations were being tracked. (The remaining roughly 18 percent was “other.”)

What might get the “location-disablers” to opt back into location sharing? Slightly under 40 percent said “nothing.” However, the remaining roughly 63 percent had a number of conditions that would need to be met before they were willing to share location:

  • “Guarantee I would only see deals/coupons from places I have been to recently” — 15.2 percent
  • “Ability to filter out ads that aren’t relevant to me” — 17.8 percent
  • “Could opt-in to sharing my data each time a request is made” — 28.4 percent

Consumers put a price on their PII. The survey also asked consumers to place a value on their personally identifiable information (PII) and about 60 percent were willing to share personal data for a price. A majority (57 percent) said it was worth a minimum of $10, while 43 percent valued it at less than $10 (28 percent) or would share it without compensation (15 percent). The higher the income, the more likely they were to want more for their data.

The question was, “How much would you charge a marketer to use your personally identifiable information for general advertising purposes?” This suggests the price arrived at applies to an isolated instance of sharing with a particular marketer rather than a price for providing data more broadly to multiple marketers.

Finally, consumers were asked whether they would charge more or less to brands that were new to them. About 48 percent said they would charge more to share data with a brand or marketer that they hadn’t interacted with, while 43 percent would charge the same amount. Roughly 10 percent would charge an unfamiliar brand less.

Why you should care. There have been proposals and experiments for years to create a direct monetary exchange between consumers and marketers in exchange for data sharing. One of the latest is Killi, which is a consumer app that asks users to enable location in exchange for micropayments. Killi users can see the brands that have purchased their data and they are compensated using PayPal or Amazon after they reach a $5 threshold.

That model is unlikely to become mainstream. However, as the survey shows, consumers are now more actively aware of data usage by marketers and trying to take more control over it. That will only accelerate when CCPA takes effect next year. However, marketers shouldn’t fear a “datageddon.” With greater transparency and education there’s reason to believe that consumers will have a greater sense of control and be favorably inclined to share their data, as the Teemo example in France suggests.

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