ARF 2019

U.S. consumers are slightly less likely to share their data in 2019 than they were a year ago. They are least comfortable offering up the likes of their social security numbers, financial and medical information; work addresses, and home address and phone numbers. That’s among the goodies revealed in the second annual Advertising Research Foundation Privacy Study, which compares attitudes in 2019 versus one year ago.

“We asked respondents what personal data they would be willing to share with a website, first with no further description and then with the clarification that, by sharing, advertising could be more personalized and relevant to them,” ARF explains. The organization conducted the study among 1,100 American consumers during the week of March 26, 2019. The first study was conducted the week of May 28, 2018. Both surveys use an online sample weighted for age, gender and region.

Consumers are more comfortable sharing the likes of gender, race, marital status, employment status, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation and citizenship. “Because citizenship has been the topic of some controversy as it relates to the 2020 census, it is important to note that 21% would not share their citizenship,” ARF notes. The biggest changes in respondents’ willingness to share their data from 2018 to 2019 were seen in their home address (-10%), spouse’s first and last name (-8%), personal email address (-7%), and first and last names (-6%).

Meanwhile, there has been little change in the institutions people trust, at least across the total population. Those surveyed continue to trust “people like themselves,” local police, scientists and experts, they say. However, those with less than a high school education trust scientists and experts the least (52%). In general, respondents continue to mistrust media, Congress and advertising.

Breaking down the data, Democrats and Asian Americans are more likely (22% and 32%, respectively) to trust Congress, and Republicans are less so by a similar amount. African Americans seem to have lost a small amount of trust in most institutions. Of note, there was also a significant decline in trust in advertising and social media by those with less than a high school education. Asian Americans and Democrats are more likely to trust television news (72% and 62%, respectively) and the media in general (53% and 52%, respectively). Baby Boomers, Republicans and Whites are much more likely to trust local police (84%, 82% and 78%, respectively).

The ARF says it is dedicated to creating, curating and sharing advertising research to enable members to build marketing leadership within their organizations. It has 400 members from leading brand advertisers, agencies, research firms and media-tech companies.