Consumers Willing to Trade Privacy for Personalization, Survey Says

A new study by ChoiceStream, a (surprise!) provider of online personalization products, announces their latest personalization survey reveals an increasing number of web users are willing to provide personal information in order to receive personalized services. From the summary at EContent:

According to the survey, the number of consumers willing to provide demographic information in exchange for a personalized online experience has grown over the past year, increasing 24% to a total of 57% of all respondents. The Survey also finds an increase in the number of consumers willing to allow websites to track their clicks and purchases, increasing 34% from the previous year. However, the results show no significant decline in the number of consumers concerned about the security of their personal data online, with 62% expressing concern in 2006 vs. 63% in 2005.

I can’t find a link to the report (here is the 2005 version [PDF]), but this is an interesting trend. My first reaction is to wonder how informed general Internet users are about the potential to aggregate and transfer personal information they decide to provide to gain some level of personalization. Do users think their information remains generally anonymous? Do they presume it is only used for personalization, and not aggregated for other purposes, or made available to other organizations (marketers, law enforcement, etc). Much more work needs to be done to fully understand people’s preferences and expectations regarding the use of their personal data for personalization services.

[via Pogo Was Right]


  1. So, I think it’s critical to distinguish between personalization (where the website chooses content for you) versus customization (where the user decides what content will be delivered). There’s actually research on this that’s not done by the industry, and it shows a preference towards the later. In fact, these studies tend to be very anti-personalization, with high percentages of respondents reporting that personalized content is not helpful. See Paul Nunes & Ajit Kambil, Personalization? No Thanks, Harvard Business Review, Apr. 2001; and The Failure of Customization: Or Why People Don’t Buy Jeans Online, Wharton Strategic Management, Mar. 27, 2002, at

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