BritePool/Annenberg Privacy Index Reveals: Only 9% of Consumers Believe They Are in Control of Their Data Online

A survey of 1,500 Americans, jointly conducted by BritePool ( and USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations, revealed that only nine percent of respondents strongly believe they are in control of the personal data online, reflecting a deep fear that consumers have lost control of their personal information. The survey is the first of its kind to integrate the desires of consumers and their online experience with the real-world needs of publishers and brands. In addition, BritePool and Annenberg are launching the BritePool/Annenberg Index, which will track consumer concerns and beliefs over control of their data online.

The survey also found that consumers know they being tracked, they block ads when they can, they are unhappy that companies are profiting from their data, they want control over how this data is being used and they are open to incentives for sharing personal data. Most importantly, consumers want a solution that allows them to participate safely on the open Internet.

BritePool is the first consumer focused, vibrant, safe and secure solution for the digital marketing ecosystem in an advertising supported open internet. It was created with the goal of solving the twin challenges currently facing the publishing and advertising industry: building consumer trust and voluntary acceptance while establishing a persistent digital last mile to the consumer in the form of a verifiable and actionable identity.

Our data underscores the emergent and real conflict that exists in the minds of consumers as they engage in online activity, says Fred Cook, director of the USC Annenberg Center for Public Realtions. We see repeatedly that consumers want to engage with brands online, but they want more control over the data they provide.

Some of the highlights of the survey include:

Consumers Have a Deep Distrust Of The Online Ecosystem

Of the consumers surveyed, 85% are aware that they are being tracked online, 41% would block every online ad if given a way to do so, and 74% clear their browsing history. 79% are unhappy that companies are profiting from their data and 82% are concerned about companies selling data at all. Importantly, 76% of Americans would welcome new Federal protections with privacy rules designed to protect them online.

Consumers See Value in their Data/Want Control

At the same time, 72% of consumers believe their data has real monetary value while 73% want access to their personal data, and 71% want to know how and why their personal data will be used. In fact, 61% want to be able to access their personal profile and see how ads have been targeted to them.

Consumers are interested in incentives for participation

The survey discovered that 64% support a policy compelling tech giants like FaceBook to pay for data, 40% very much want to receive rewards for programs they participate in as compensation for sharing data. Only 21% of the survey respondents want to receive more personalized ads and product recommendations.

This research proves conclusively that the publishing industry and the brands who rely on verifiable online identities are facing enormous headwinds of consumer distrust and dissatisfaction, says Bob Perkins, COO of BritePool. Consumers want knowledge, they want control and they want incentives. This is the holy grail for publishers and advertisers providing alternatives to the ˜walled garden online solutions today.

At the same time, consumers are both worried about the privacy of their data and interested in getting paid for sharing it, says Cook. We are seeing an emerging trend towards a new nano-ecomony, where everyone online will be compensated for what they create, recommend and view.

According to BritePool, the soon to be introduced CCPA legislation in California, where consumers will be given a clear choice to opt-out and restrict sharing their personal profiles, is going to fundamentally challenge the viability of the current online business model for thousands of publishers who rely on this data to know their customers and participate in programmatic advertising.

In fact, the survey revealed that 40% of consumers would enroll in a free service, like BritePool, to protect their personal data, says Perkins. This represents a huge opportunity and solution for everyone.

Elliot Sloane
[email protected]