A concerning discovery from the minds of 287,000 mobile consumers, on GDPR’s 1st birthday

Jun 07, 2019

Luke Geoghegan

Seems like just yesterday GDPR came into effect. Marking a historic new chapter.

Consumer data, mishandled for decades, can no longer be used without the user’s consent.

Finally!

An end to appalling displays of data abuse and rogue marketing. An end to consumer mistrust.

What a difference a year makes.

Or does it? How do consumers really feel since GDPR came in to effect?

We had to find out. So we conducted some extensive research.

Not the type that consists of 2,000 – 10,000 survey respondents. That’s not enough to grasp the reality of the situation.

We asked 287,000 consumers, from six countries, their opinions towards data, privacy, mobile marketing, and advertising. Making it the largest piece of research of its kind ever conducted.

The results are in, and they make for wide-eyed reading.
The Reality Report: Consumer Attitudes Towards Mobile Marketing 2019, will be available for you to download free from July 9th. But before we release it in its entirety, we wanted to share some alarming GDPR related snippets.

Consumers Are Still In The Dark Over Their Data

One year on from GDPR, despite the publicity, and best efforts of organizations and lawmakers, only 8% of consumers feel they now have a better understanding of how their data is used by the companies who collect it. 8%!? That’s low.

Digging deeper, results show that over one half of consumers feel they have no better understanding of how their data is being used since GDPR was introduced. And over a third don’t even know what GDPR is.

Ouch.

No legislation is perfect. But such a dramatic disconnect between the policy and the people is disappointing news for lawmakers.

For marketers, it’s a wake-up call.

One year in, the grace period is over. GDPR sanctions will fall. And fines will become more frequent. Organizations have a responsibility to inform users about how their data will be used. Not only to avoid financial implications, but also to build consumer trust, and help demonstrate the mutual value-exchange that comes with sharing data.

As is stands today, however, consumers are not getting it. Why?

GDPR has not been taken seriously enough

Based on what we’ve seen so far, most would say that’s true.

But organizations can hardly be accused of sleeping on the job. Since GDPR came into effect, job listings for data Protection Officers (DPOs) have shot up by 700% as companies gear up for compliance. In the USA and UK alone, an estimated $9bn has been spent on GDPR preparation.

$9bn is a serious amount of money. And if you’re reading this, chances are you or your company have put in a lot of effort into adopting practices and processes to become compliant.

Lack of consumer understanding, therefore, is not entirely caused by the fact that GDPR hasn’t being taken seriously enough. It’s that organizations time and money has been mainly spent on internal changes.   

That’s all absolutely required. But consumer clarity requires external focus.

And that begins with consent notices. The first line of communication.

It’s this – vital interaction – that hasn’t been taken seriously enough.

Results from our research prove it…

78% of consumers do not read consent notices

Alarming indeed. But hardly surprising when the average amount of time it takes to read one is 25 minutes.

Packed with obscure legalese and sprawling clauses, the majority of consent notices are too long and too opaque. They’re not accessible to the average reader. They don’t help consumers understand how organizations use their data. In fact – they’re failing to inform the very people they are designed to protect.

Consent notices should use plain language, that’s easy to understand, quick to consume, and published in plain sight. Empowering users with clarity, to make an informed choice.

But currently, that’s not the case.

As long as it remains this way, organizations will never earn consumer trust. And that is bad for the internet, and bad for business.

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, where guards are up and consumers don’t know how their data is being used, trust is a competitive advantage. It’s a route to sustainable business growth.

As an industry, it’s time to stand up and take note of what our consumers have told us.

And they’ve told us a lot – all 287,000 of them – in The Reality Report: Consumer Attitudes To Mobile Marketing 2019.

It’s available for free from July 9th. Send us your details below and we’ll ensure you’re one of the first to receive it.

Max Pepe, VP Marketing