Survey Shows 90% of U.S. Businesses Report Leveraging Consumers Personal Information, Consumers Report Little to No Knowledge of How their Information is Being Used

Oct 16, 2018

CompliancePoint, an information security and risk management consultancy, released the results of its latest data privacy survey, revealing consumer preferences to data collection and how businesses leverage the use of their data. The results show that 90% of U.S. businesses report leveraging personal information from search results as part of their marketing strategy, while 76% of consumers report they are not aware, or moderately aware of how their information is being used.

Of the businesses polled, 60.3% said that they use customer search engine results for web retargeting, and an additional 32.7% said that they further use this for mobile marketing campaigns. While the majority of consumers (56%) reported that they actually prefer for businesses to market to them based on their web searches, another 44% reported that they think it “feels weird” to have a company know so much information about their online habits.

Furthermore, 77% of consumers reported that they have clicked on one of the top-3 search engine results, typically reserved for sponsored results.  Business respondents reported leveraging these online actions in some way throughout their marketing campaigns more than 90% of the time. Yet 22% of consumers reported not understanding how their data is being used, with an additional 54% stating they are “moderately aware.” 

The results show that businesses are collecting the most customer data from the one category consumers are most concerned with companies sharing or selling- their financial information. Over 42% of consumers stated they are most concerned with businesses sharing or selling their financial information, while 46.8% of businesses report collecting and selling this information specifically.

In conclusion, the consumer is concerned with companies sharing their information among channels, however, the majority select sponsored search engine results, and prefer it when companies retarget them for shopping convenience.

The same survey asked businesses how often businesses were sharing their customers’ information to other companies--21% reported that they always share their customers' information, 25% reported that they do so frequently, and another 21% reported that they do this regularly. Less than 12% stated that they rarely share their customers’ information with other companies for marketing purposes.

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