ARF Study Finds a Majority of Respondents Willing to Share Prior Purchase Data and Media Habits for More Relevant Ads

Fifth annual Privacy Study explores consumer beliefs and actions around trust in institutions and data privacy

New York, Sept. 20, 2022 — Despite the privacy backlash facing the advertising
industry, most respondents say it is at least somewhat acceptable to receive more relevant ads
in return for certain information that is collected. This is according to the fifth annual ARF
(Advertising Research Foundation) Privacy Study released today. In terms of what information
to use, “the media you use” and “prior purchases” ranked highest in acceptability at 76% and
74% respectively.

When asked if they were willing to share information in order to get more relevant advertising,
people were more likely to share age, gender, race and ethnicity and least likely to share Social
Security numbers, financial information and medical information. This willingness stems from
the issue of irrelevant advertising which is noteworthy – about a quarter consumers reported
“frequently irrelevant” ads across different media platforms.

“Despite the recent proposal of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, it’s still unclear
whether federal privacy legislation will be implemented in the not-so-distant future,” said Paul
Donato, Chief Research Officer at the ARF. “Although many bodies are concerned with the
impact this legislation will have on the advertising industry, our findings show that there is a path
forward because most consumers are generally onboard with relevant advertising and willing to
share an array of information – age, gender, race, ethnicity, prior purchases, and media
consumption data – to experience it.”

Additional survey findings include:

● Men are more concerned about privacy: People overall expressed slightly less
concern about privacy and their online behavior as compared to 2021. However, men
and younger persons were more likely to take privacy related actions than women and
older persons.
● Consumers will trade data for a better experience: About half of the respondents said
they were willing to have their personal data used if it meant a better experience with
interactions, such as recommendation engines. Almost 70% of respondents said it was
okay for a doctor’s office to retain their data if it would reduce paperwork during
subsequent visits.
● Smart TVs and smartphone usage grew: Heavy usage (3+hrs per day) went up for
smart TVs and smartphones but dropped slightly for other devices.
● Older generations watch Smart TVs: While more people stream video on their Smart
TV than any other device, that is not true for persons ages 18-34 years who are more
likely to stream on their devices, especially their smartphone.
● Cohorts can work for gender or age grouping: Consumers are less favorable about
being grouped with others because of their mobility and location than they were about
being grouped by age and gender.
● Similarities garner more trust: 83% of respondents place the most trust in people like
themselves, followed by scientists and technical experts and their local police. However,
advertising, media and Congress achieve the lowest trust scores averaging less than
40%. When it comes to protecting data, people are most likely to trust banks and
financial institutions, doctors and hospitals than other institutions.
● Data sharing already assumed: About 40% of people believe that any given step – like
requiring opt-in – has already been taken whether or not the step had indeed been
engaged (such as opt-in on Android devices).

The ARF’s annual Privacy Study was launched in 2018 as part of an initiative to advance data
privacy and protection guidelines for the advertising industry.

To see the full findings of the survey, visit here.

Study Methodology

The ARF conducted its fifth annual Privacy Study by surveying 1,273 U.S. consumers in spring
2022. All five surveys were conducted using a Qualtrics online sample and platform, with quotas
for age, gender and region, based on the distribution of the U.S. population.

About The ARF
Founded more than 80 years ago, the ARF is dedicated to creating, curating and sharing
objective, industry-level advertising research to enable members to make a true impact on their
advertising and build marketing leadership within their organizations. It has more than 400
members from leading brand advertisers, agencies, research firms and media-tech companies.
For more information, visit
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