Survey: Advertisers Rank Below Government at Protecting Personal Data

Gfk Study Finds Just 25% Believe Marketers Can Be Trusted

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Consumers trust marketers and advertisers with their data about as far as they can throw 'em. More than half of those participating in a recent privacy study said doctors, search engines and banks warrant their trust when it comes to personal data protection. Marketers and advertisers, on the other hand, elicted the least faith from those surveyed; just 25% said the industry is trustworthy with personal information.

A data privacy study conducted by research firm GfK in March suggests that, while nearly half of consumers surveyed say they appreciate getting targeted marketing messages, they're skeptical of how corporations use their personal data and doubt that stringent security measures are in place. Forty-nine percent of those surveyed agreed "advertising that is tailored to my needs is helpful because I can find the right products and services more quickly."

But there's a bit of a disconnect: 64% said they don't trust how their personal data "is handled" by marketers and advertisers.

Consumers want that to change. Overall, 54% of those surveyed said they'd like to see marketers and advertisers alter their personal data policies and activities. The age breakdown is distinct, however. Far more pre-boomers (75%) and boomers (60%) want marketers to adjust their data practices, while younger generations seem less bothered. Half of gen X-ers, 46% of Generation Y and 47% of Generation Z respondents say marketers whould change their data ways.

The research firm conducted the study, the first of its kind by GfK, "to provide marketers and the industry with a benchmark on consumers' attitudes and behavior around data privacy," said Dave Krajicek, CEO of GfK Consumer Experiences North America.

While advertisers and marketers are on the low end of the data-protection-reputation totem pole, several industries got relatively high marks for personal data handling. More than half of those surveyed said healthcare firms (72%) and banks (64%) -- harvesters of some of the most sensitive data around – can be trusted. Social sites (39%) and international businesses (28%) also drew skepticism.

Mr. Krajicek suggested healthcare and financial firms are more trusted because they are so heavily regulated.

Marketers may be in the proverbial privacy doghouse but government authorities aren't exactly reliable data protectors according to study participants. More than half – 53% -- said authorities need to change their personal data policies and activities (though only 42% said they trusted the authorities).

Gfk surveyed 1,000 people aged 18 and up from March 7 through March 9 for its Data Privacy Analysis study.

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