One year after Cambridge Analytica, consumer privacy fears remain a major marketing issue

It turns out the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica user data scandal didn’t merely blow over, it has significantly impacted the way consumers feel about online privacy.  According to a new study by SMS marketing firm, SlickText, privacy has become a serious concern for most US consumers.  The study found that one year on from Facebook’s sharing of user data with Cambridge Analytica becoming publicly known, 76.3% of respondents indicated that they are now moderately or significantly concerned about their data when interacting with brands.

This could spell trouble for marketers looking to target consumers online. How will they do it if most customers are afraid to share their information?

Key survey findings:

  • The 2018 Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal caused lasting worries about user data: 73.9% of consumers surveyed said the Cambridge Analytica scandal made them concerned about how their information is used.
  • Customers are scared away by poor privacy practices: 94.1% of consumers surveyed are unlikely to do business with a company if they have concerns about their privacy practices.
  • Consumers don’t like knowing they’re targeted by brands: 76.8% of consumers surveyed said when they notice online targeted ads it makes them uncomfortable.
  • Brands need to do a better job of finding communication channels: 80.3% of consumers surveyed said brands contact them in ways they find inappropriate.
  • Watch those unsubscribes: 51.5% of those surveyed said in the last year concerns about privacy have motivated them to unsubscribe from email newsletters.

This survey shows that brands have to work harder than ever to win back customer trust. It’s not that consumers don’t want to hear from brands but that they’re looking for communication that is helpful, valuable and, importantly, not spammy. Consumers will run from brands they feel have the potential to be spammy, so when you’re developing or auditing a marketing strategy it’s important to do so with a perception of how it’s coming across.

Matt Baglia, CEO, SlickText