While received wisdom has it that consumers love nothing more than personalised online ads, Group M’s Consumer Trust in Digital Marketing report paints a different picture.
Compiled from a survey of nearly 14,000 consumers in 23 countries, it appears to be a damning indictment of current practices, with three-fifths (60%) of consumers saying they are less inclined to use a product if their data is used for any purpose, while one-third (37%) feel digital ads are too intrusive.
Meanwhile, more than half (56%) want greater control over their data, even though those in the European Union already have this through GDPR.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the majority (64%) of consumers would have a negative opinion of a brand next to inappropriate content.
The report says marketers can no longer just spend their digital marketing budgets willy-nilly, they need to focus on using the right digital platforms to reach consumers, to be transparent about how data is gathered and used, and to think holistically about the many media channels where they can build consumer relationships.
Group M global CEO Christian Juhl said: “With pervasive reports of data security and privacy missteps, consumers are increasingly wary of information gathering about them as they move online. Media has evolved dramatically and it’s crucial the industry works collaboratively to make advertising work better for people around the world. As marketers, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are using consumer information responsibly and transparently.”
The analysis of the survey findings points to important paths for creating more dialogue and trust with consumers.
Building trust through platforms
Group M found that, among consumers with digital marketing concerns, top challenges include fake news on social media, cyberbullying and online predators. Three-quarters (75%) of consumers believe it is a digital platform’s responsibility to stop inappropriate content from appearing.
In order to secure consumer trust in their brands, marketers should continue to consider whether the online advertising platforms they are using are appropriate for the type of brand content they are creating. Additionally, they should ensure they are setting parameters around ad placements that build marketing effectiveness and protect brand value.
Building trust with data
Data privacy remains a significant concern for consumers globally, with 61% of those surveyed indicating they would be less willing to buy or use a product or service if companies use their personal data.
Correspondingly, consumers are looking to protect themselves. Group M’s research shows that changing privacy settings and deleting cookies and browser history – areas informing digital advertising – are on the rise.
If companies wish to continue using consumers’ data, marketers may need to offer incentives and communicate the benefits more convincingly, the study says. Being transparent about consumer data usage, with clear frameworks aligned through a whole organisation, will help foster a new relationship of trust in the digital marketing process.
Building trust beyond traditional advertising
According to Group M’s findings, consumers are receiving more communication from brands than desired. Marketers should work to optimise the customer experience by tailoring the frequency and the types of messages. With consumers spending more time online, marketers should place even greater emphasis on communications tactics such as working with micro- and nano-influencers, which may help mitigate digital advertising fatigue.
Group M’s report also highlights the appreciation consumers have for different types of brand communications and points to, in some cases, big differences of opinion across markets.
For example, an average of 59% of consumers globally appreciate receiving discounts and offers – who doesn’t? – yet only 20% appreciate invitations to complete satisfaction surveys.
There are also some glaring differences between different markets. While 75% of consumers in New Zealand said they would be less willing to buy or use a product or service if companies used their personal data, only 38% of consumers in Indonesia said the same.
Group M regional director for APAC Chris Myers, who wrote the report, said: “To make digital advertising work better for everyone, we must listen to what consumers are saying and refine our strategies accordingly.
Marketers should not pull back on digital advertising; on the contrary, they should push forward in ways that respect consumers’ evolving relationship with digital media.
“There is a commentary on how advertisers should organise; in particular, the need for chief marketing officers to be closely aligned with data protection officers. This need will only become greater as technology further intertwines with marketing.”
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