Consumer Are Less Trusting, According to the ARF

By Charlene Weisler

According to a recent study from the ARF, consumers are slightly less likely to share their data in 2019 compared to last year. Polling 1,105 adults 18+ via a mobile questionnaire in March 2019, respondents were asked about how well they understood common privacy terms, what personal data they were willing to share and how their attitude changed from last year when offered the benefit of greater customization of their on-line experience. The study’s sample, which was balanced by age, demo and region, also measured trust and how it varied by demo group and forms of privacy on digital, mobile vs. PC usage, and trust in institutions.

This shift in consumer attitude is a harbinger of to come as the American market faces legal restrictions not only globally from the GDPR but also nationally from the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), which as Paul Donato, Chief Research Officer at the ARF explains, is soon going into effect, allowing, “consumers to opt-out of the sale of their personal information to third parties, not to mention the other upcoming state and federal regulations that could impact the ad tech industry.”

Key findings from the study include:

  • Respondents were much less willing than in 2018 to share their home address (-10 percentage points), spouse’s first and last name (-8 percentage points), personal email address (-7 percentage points), and first and last names (-6 percentage points).


  • Incentives are less impactful. Offering to personalize experience doesn’t dramatically change what data consumers are willing to share.


  • Regarding privacy policies, surveyed consumers understand the benefit of marketers using their data to target, but don’t understand the tools used, such as “pixel tags.”


  • Consumers continue to be mistrustful of institutions, media, Congress and advertising. However, this varies by demographic. Democrats and Asian Americans, for example, have the greatest trust in the media and television news.


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