Erin Taylor is an Account Director for the Social & Innovation team in OMD Create Melbourne, using data and insights to deliver high impact messaging for brands in the social space.
Consumers value convenience over privacy, which is why the #DeleteFacebook movement was never going to work.
A month ago, you couldn’t have been faulted for thinking the end was nigh for Facebook. It seemed anyone and everyone with influence was weighing in on the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Elon Musk deleted the Tesla and Space X Facebook pages. WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton tweeted “It’s time. #deletefacebook”. Facebook users’ trust in Facebook’s commitment to user privacy dropped from 79% in 2017 to 27% last month right after the scandal broke. This is a big and potentially long-term brand sentiment problem for Facebook, but not one which will bring it down.
Despite all the hysteria, Facebook has reported an increase in daily active users quarter on quarter in the US and Canada. In Australia, Neilsen has reported a decrease of only 19,000 monthly active users month on month, while also reporting an increase of 250,000 to Instagram and Messenger. The #DeleteFacebook campaign was doomed to fail before it ever started because of one universal truth: People value convenience and money over privacy.
It should be noted that this assertion is at odds with what consumers say about data privacy. Only one in five Australians claim they are happy to share their data for a better customer experience. The same amount say they like receiving personalised advice and messages. But as most digital marketers will know, using customer data to cleverly target them with personalised messages is more effective, across a variety of metrics.
Actions speak louder than words, and there is a clear difference between what people say and do when it comes to their privacy. Research out of Stanford University provides evidence of this ‘digital privacy paradox’. People claim to care about their privacy online, but when presented with the choice between convenience and privacy, convenience often wins out. In this case, people were willing to give up private information for some free pizza. And who among us hasn’t popped three of their friends’ phone numbers down in exchange for a 7-day class pass at the gym?
Does this mean we should ignore what consumers say? Probably not. In an age of two-way communication consumer trust is important, and a valuable asset in the trade-off for their data. Key to that trust is providing convenience, consent and control. Facebook’s main convenience offering to consumers is the ability to easily stay in touch and up to date with their friends and family, for free. In the wake of the scandal, Facebook has been working hard to publicise the consent and control capabilities of data privacy within its platform. Data Governance Australia’s whitepaper Building consumer trust suggests providing better ‘utility’ is also key to the convenience offering. Amazon ranks in the top 20 US corporate trust indexes, and this is likely because Amazon uses data to provide useful product recommendations.
As long as you can make a consumer’s life easier, they will be willing to give up their data to you. Whether this is making it easy to keep in touch, stay up to date, or make purchase decisions, consumers will stick around. The key is ensuring your convenience offering is a worthy trade-off for privacy.