Privacy, Data, and Consent: Consumer Attitudes | ASK Answers | All MKC Content | ANA

Privacy, Data, and Consent: Consumer Attitudes



How do consumers feel about how their personal data is managed online?

Privacy concerns are higher than ever before. Consumers are no longer willing to give up their confidential information and habits without an equitable value exchange. Transparency is necessary for companies to gain consumer trust, and rightly so. 

As an ANA article states, there is "a greater need to share data in a way that protects everyone's proprietary assets through a trusted process. It can no longer be about walled gardens anymore, as companies have started to realize the value of their first-party data as a response to the walled gardens." 

As the market moves on from cookies and mobile ad identifiers (MAIDs), the set of solutions that enables first-party data sharing is changing. Based on recent research by The Winterberry Group, 38 percent of U.S. marketers are "expanding the implementation of existing first-party data strategy across business units and channels, while 36 percent of U.K. respondents are in the process of implementing a first-party data strategy."

This implementation matches up with evolving consumer attitudes, which are veering toward increased protectiveness of their privacy than ever before. According to a survey by Cheetah Digital and Econsultancy, personalized and tailored ads are making consumers more uncomfortable: 52 percent of those survey felt ads on social media sites based on recent shopping experiences on other sites were "creepy." In addition, 54 percent of consumers also believed personalized offers after staying on a brand's site for more than two minutes were also "creepy."

Daniel Sepulveda, SVP for policy and advocacy at MediaMath, stated at an ANA event in 2020 that  "companies need to be held accountable. A consumer protection law would provide guidance and ensure consumers will have access to resources, as well as competition for resources. Consumers need to have agency over what is shared about them."

Below are resources to help give insight on consumer attitudes. 


  • Consumer Experience Sentiment Report Explores Consumer Privacy Preferences and Brand Loyalty. Merkle, April 2021.
    Merkle launched the second edition of its Consumer Experience Sentiment Report. Within this report, several key themes emerged, including those around consumers' online engagement, the desire for personalized experiences, and brands' abilities to engage on an emotional level.

  • Are Consumers Getting Less Creeped Out About Being Tracked Online? Econsultancy/Cheetah, March 2021.
    While privacy concerns are certainly heightening amid legislation and calls for increased transparency, inhibitions about sharing information for a better online experience may be decreasing at an even faster pace. A recent survey of more than 5,000 global consumers from Cheetah Digital and Econsultancy shows many common online tracking practices to be considered only slightly "creepier" than "cool." These include:
    • Adverts on social media sites based on recent shopping experiences on other sites: 48 percent, "cool;" 52 percent, "creepy."
    • An email reminder or advert about a product abandoned in an online shopping cart: 46 percent, "cool;" 54 percent, "creepy."
    • Personalized offers after staying on a brand's site for more than two minutes: 46 percent, "cool;" 54 percent "creepy."
    • A chatbot that has access to past purchase history to help with online shopping: 44 percent, "cool;" 56 percent, "creepy."
    • One method accepted by the wide majority is offering recommendations based on past purchases: 73 percent, "cool;" 27 percent, "creepy."

      Respondent breakdown by industry grouping:

  • Data and Identity in the Era of Collaboration. ANA/Winterberry, January 2021.
    As the market moves on from cookies and mobile ad identifiers (MAIDs), the set of solutions that enables first-party data sharing is evolving. Based on research released by the Winterberry Group, Bruce Biegel discussed the role of data marketplaces, exchanges, co-ops, stores, and technology platforms in transforming how identity and data can be used in consent first marketing and advertising.

  • Survey Finds Widespread Skepticism Over How Companies Collect and Use Personal Data. The Conference Board/Nielsen, November 2020.
    From websites to wearables, today's companies are collecting richer data on their users than ever before — and promising to deliver more convenient, personalized, and cost-effective experiences in return. But many consumers are skeptical, according to a survey by The Conference Board in collaboration with Nielsen. In the survey of more than 30,000 consumers across 63 global markets, over 20 percent of respondents report having reduced or abandoned their use of a brand or company due to data privacy concerns.

    Moreover, 19 percent report having switched to or selected a competitor company for its better data policies. The report detailing the findings, Consumers' Attitudes about Data Practices, captures consumers' perceptions, preferences, and behaviors when it comes to companies' practices regarding the collection and usage of personal data.

  • Did Lockdown Make Consumers More Open to Privacy? Global Consumer Privacy Survey. Ernst and Young, November 2020.
    COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated reliance on digital services and platforms as we transition abruptly to new ways of living and working. It also shifted the parameters of what consumers expect in return for their personal data and their willingness to share it, and how they want organizations and institutions to gather and process that data.

    The survey found that 54 percent of consumers say COVID-19 made them more aware of the personal data they share than they were before the pandemic. "The COVID-19 discussion around data sharing and how it can help fight the virus has created more consumer awareness about privacy," says Tony de Bos, EY Global Data Protection and Privacy Consulting Leader. "Now, the conversation is more about transparency and the value exchange, rather than just handing over the data." Industry breakdown:

  • Exploring Consumer Attitudes About Privacy. Future Privacy Forum, October 2020.
    This page links to two different survey reports on privacy:
    • Privacy Front and Center: from Consumer Reports' Digital Lab, which found that American consumers are increasingly concerned about privacy and data security when purchasing new products and services, which may be a competitive advantage to companies that raise the bar for privacy.
    • Protecting Data Privacy to Maintain Digital Trust: from Cisco, which found that protecting data privacy remains important to consumers during the pandemic. One-third of consumers are "Privacy Actives" who have stopped doing business with organizations over their data privacy practices. The survey also found that residents of all 12 countries in the study view their privacy laws very favorably and want more transparency about how their data is being used.

      Breakdown by industry sector:

  • Decoding Data Dynamics: Digital Society Index. ANA/Dentsu, September 2020.
    Based in part on a survey of 32,000 people across 22 markets, this paper by the Dentsu Aegis Network examines several trends in consumer attitudes and behavior around data and privacy. The findings include the following:
    • Big tech isn't trusted with personal data, but consumers still relinquish it.
    • Consumers want personalization but not personalized ads.
    • Consumers demand the opportunity to give consent for the use of their data, but few read terms and conditions.

In addition to identifying these trends, the paper lays out four scenarios for how the data landscape may be transformed in the coming decade. Breakdown by industry sector:



The Marketing Knowledge Center actively connects ANA members to the resources they need to be successful. You can visit the ANA website to engage with the MKC in three ways.

        • Explore content to access best practices, case studies, and marketing tools. Our proprietary content includes Event Recaps, which share actionable insights from conference and committee presentations.
        • Connect with our Ask the Expert team in real time for customized answers to your specific marketing challenges.

Submit a request to Ask the Expert here.


"Privacy, Data, and Consent: Consumer Attitudes." ANA, July 2021.