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Data and privacy concerns grow among consumers

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Data and privacy concerns grow among consumers


Consumers are showing greater concern over how data is gathered online and in apps and smart devices, according to a new study by GroupM, the media investment arm of WPP. The research was conducted in December by GroupM’s Audience Origin (formerly LivePanel) and included 1,000 U.S. consumers.

The findings indicated a decline in the number of consumers who feel comfortable sharing their data on health tracker apps or to allow smart home devices to automatically order refills for household items.

Sharing info. Over three quarters (77%) of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: “I worry about how companies use my personal data online.” This was up from 72% in last year’s report.

Also, only a small percentage of consumers believe that the company who makes a device in the home, or its software, should have access to the data. That number is 5.4% in the current study, down from 6.9% in the previous one.

Read more: Predictions 2022: Data strategy and privacy

New tech. Consumers are less enamored with new technology in their house. Only 51% of respondents in the survey agreed with the statement: “It’s important my household is equipped with the latest technology.” The survey the previous year had 54% agree.

Also, 32% somewhat or completely agreed that new tech “confuses me,” up from 28% the year before.

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Why we care. In this study, the numbers appear to be consistently in the 5% range for drop in consumer sentiment around privacy, data and new technology.

It’s not a massive drop, but it’s not nothing either. Individual brands can overcome this barrier by managing a better conversation with their customers about their privacy and data practices.

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Take, for instance, the wide disparity in the way email subscriptions are managed. Some brands offer a one-click unsubscribe, while others hide the option behind a number of additional screens and questions. Marketers can cut through with transparency, and the ones that do will be ahead of the game as privacy law catches up in the states.

About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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Martech firms among third parties scooping email addresses from websites prior to submission

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Martech firms among third parties scooping email addresses from websites prior to submission

Email addresses and passwords are being collected from website logins and sent to trackers before consumers submit the data or give consent, according to a new research paper. Some of that data is apparently going to martech providers. Email addresses can be used to track consumer behavior both on- and off-line,

Of the 100,000 sites examined, email addresses were collected from 1,844 websites in the EU and 2,950 sites in the U.S., according to “Leaky Forms: A Study of Email and Password Exfiltration Before Form Submission.”


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U.S. vs. EU results. “Comparing results from the EU and the U.S. vantage points, we found that 60% more websites leaked users’ emails to trackers, when visited from the U.S. Measuring the effect of consent choices on the exfiltration, we found their effect to be minimal. Based on our findings, users should assume that the personal information they enter into web forms may be collected by trackers — even if the form is never submitted,” write researchers Asuman Senol (imex-COSIC, KU Leuven), Gunes Acar (Radboud University), Mathias Humbert (University of Lausanne and Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius (Radboud University).

Among the third-party collectors of email addresses are martech firms such as Adobe (Bizible), Criteo, Facebook, LiveRamp, Neustar, Oracle Netsuite (Bronco Marketing Platform), Salesforce Pardot and Taboola. Among the top websites where emails were collected before form submission were USA TODAY, Trello and The Independent in Europe; Business Insider, Issuu and Time in the U.S.

Read next: Why data compliance is more than consent management

The paper, to be presented at USENIX Security’22 in August, reported, “Taboola said in certain cases they collect users’ email hashes before form submission for ad and content personalization; they keep email hashes for at most 13 months; and they do not share them with other third parties. Taboola also said they only collect email hashes after getting user consent; however, our findings and subsequent manual verification showed that was not always the case.”

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While this activity is legal at a federal level in the U.S., it is banned in the EU under GDPR.


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The worst offending categories include: Fashion/Beauty (11.1% EU; 19% U.S.) Online Shopping (9.4% EU; 15.1% U.S.); and General News (6.6% EU; 10.2% U.S.). The least problematic: “Despite filling email fields on hundreds of websites categorized as Pornography, we have not [found] a single email leak.”

Why we care. With the end of cookies, it is inevitable that marketers will look for new sources of consumer data. Few are as useful as email addresses which are unique and persistent and can be tracked across the web and in the real world via things like loyalty programs. However, taking them without consent is a blatant violation of law in the EU and privacy expectations in the U.S. Also, the researchers found passwords being taken by what we in the martech field call “session replay scripts.” These are in practice indistinguishable from what the rest of the world calls keylogger malware.


About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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