Most consumers are willing to provide information about themselves to providers they trust in exchange for a personalised online experience, according to the 2006 ChoiceStream Personalisation Survey.
The number of consumers willing to provide demographic information in exchange for a personalised online experience has grown dramatically over the past year, increasing by 24%-points to a total of 57%.
Happy with tracking
The survey also noted a significant increase in the number of consumers willing to allow web sites to track their clicks and purchases (which is often done using web browser 'cookies'), increasing 34%-points from the previous year.
However, the results showed no significant decline in the number of consumers who are concerned about the security of their personal data online, with 62% expressing concern in 2006 compared to 63% in 2005.
According to ChoiceStream advisor Esther Dyson, "Consumers are overwhelmed with the vast array of content and choices coming at them every day online. They want guidance, even though they want the freedom to make their own choices and to explore the data if they want to. Even though they still have concerns about the safety of their information, they're increasingly willing to let vendors know more about them in exchange for the convenience and relevance of personalisation."
The personalised social network
New to the survey this year were questions concerning respondents' participation in online social networking. Not surprisingly, participation varied greatly by age, with 69% of 18-24 year-olds indicating participation, and only 8% of 50+ year-olds.
Overall, 30% of respondents indicated membership of an online social network. Of that number, 75% indicated that personalisation would improve their social networking experience by introducing them to members who share their tastes and interests.
The survey also noted that interest in personalisation is spreading beyond the computer desktop to television and mobile screens. Overall, 45% of respondents said they are dissatisfied with their current on-screen TV programme guide because it takes too long to scroll through to find programming of interest. Almost half (47%) expressed interest in receiving a personalised guide to solve this problem by helping them find shows and movies that match their tastes and interests. Interest in a personalised guide varied by age, with 62% of 18-24 year-olds indicating strong interest, while only 37% of 50+ year-olds expressed an interest.
According to ChoiceStream, cable operators and TV content providers also need to note that respondents' interest in a personalised guide extended to video-on-demand (VOD) and pay-per-view (PPV) television listings as well, with almost 40% saying that they would watch more VOD or PPV if it were easier to find programming and movies that matched their tastes and interests.
Consumers responded in a similar fashion when asked about their mobile devices and the ease with which they can find interesting content to download. Almost 50% said that they would be more likely to download ringtones, music or other content to their mobile device if they were presented with choices based on their own tastes and preferences.
According to Steve Johnson, CEO for ChoiceStream, the 2006 survey indicates a shift in consumers' perceptions of their electronic devices, and it is no longer sufficient for devices to simply provide access to content - they also have to offer guidance to help find the right content: "We live in an age of super-abundance where we're overwhelmed with choice. The brands that deliver a personalised experience to consumers are the ones that earn consumers' loyalty and, ultimately, spending power."