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GDPR One Year On: Survey Findings Show Consumer Awareness with Data Use Is Concerningly Low

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Fifty-Two Percent of Consumers Globally Still Don’t Understand How Their Data Is Used, Even After Reading Consent Forms and Privacy Policies.

Ogury, a technology company specialized in mobile journey marketing, conducted a survey of over 287,571 global consumers, examining attitudes towards mobile marketing, advertising and data: The largest survey of its kind to date. Coinciding with the first anniversary of GDPR, the survey findings reveal that consumers are still in the dark when it comes to how their data is collected, stored and used.

GDPR awareness shockingly low; organizations still failing consumers 
When asked whether they felt their understanding of how companies used their data had improved since GDPR came into effect, the majority of respondents answered “No.” What’s more, consumer awareness of GDPR itself is still low. Globally, 55 percent of respondents said their understanding of how companies use their data was no better than before the law came into effect, while a further 37 percent globally said that “they didn’t even know what GDPR was.” In European countries where GDPR has been in effect for more than a year now, a surprisingly high number of 39 percent of the proportion of European respondents were unaware of what GDPR is at all.

“GDPR has not been taken seriously enough by organizations. These might be disheartening numbers for lawmakers and regulators, who will have no doubt hoped for a far greater level of understanding from the very consumers that GDPR is designed to protect. But marketers should similarly take heed of this admission by users that the message is not getting through in sufficient numbers,” said Thomas Pasquet, Co-Founder & CEO, Ogury. “Businesses need to deeply understand what GDPR is and in turn educate consumers around the importance of data sharing; this level of consumer education will become increasingly important across the globe. We are already seeing this level of education begin to happen in the US as we prepare for the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.”

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The importance of explicit user consent

The study’s findings indicate that businesses have not properly instituted a requirement for explicit and informed user consent for data collection and usage. Seventy-eight percent don’t read consent notices in their entirety.

In addition, roughly half of consumers (52 percent globally) answered that, even when they do read consent notices, they still do not understand how their data is being used. This was even higher in countries where GDPR has been implemented for one year, where 58 percent of European countries do not understand how companies use their data.

Elie Kanaan, CMO, Ogury, said, “The industry desperately needs to earn back consumers’ trust, by granting them a clear and fair choice and gaining their explicit consent. That means consent notices must be in plain words, published in plain sight.” He continued, “There is an opportunity to simultaneously alleviate consumer privacy concerns and increase mobile engagement – by committing to explicit, informed, and unambiguous user choice; from opting-in to customized marketing, to exercising their right to be forgotten. Unfortunately, over the past year, companies have failed to take GDPR seriously, which means there is a chance that the industry will be led to more privacy scandals and concerns in the near future.”

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Consumers don’t care about legislations; they care about clarity and fairness of choice.

The survey also revealed that, when given an explicit choice, 71 percent of respondents globally would be prepared to share data from their mobile apps and website usage as well as contact details as an alternative to paying for access to apps and online content.

With regards to user choice, Kanaan, added, “The fact that 71 percent of mobile users globally would share their data if they know exactly which data is being collected and how it will be used, tells us clearly that consumers are willing to contribute to preserve a free internet as long as the exchange is fair and respected. It also confirms the market assumptions that drove the design of Ogury Consent Manager with Fair Choice. This product introduces three clear and fair options: accept anonymous data to be collected and used to receive customized marketing; Opt-out from sharing data and therefore receive irrelevant ads; Or pay a fair price in exchange for a marketing free and data collection free environment.”

This survey points to the fact that it is time for a transformation globally around how advertising and marketing is done today. If businesses do not begin to take GDPR seriously, there can be major consequences through various sanctions that will be detrimental for companies not operating under the law as it stands.

A move towards consented data sharing and advertising creates a safer environment for consumers and brands, restoring trust and integrity to the industry, and helping to create a more mature and respectful internet.

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