People are becoming more aware of the data being collected about
them online. And that's eroding the trust they have with collecting
companies, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.
Asked which companies are the greatest threat to the future of
privacy, 59% of 1,100 respondents cited Facebook and 40% said
Twitter, according to a survey conducted by McCann. Thirty-two percent pointed to
Google, almost doubling from the 18% who said as much when McCann
conducted the same survey in 2011.
"It's not necessary that people feel Google or Facebook has done
anything bad with data to date. It's what might happen in the
future. It's a nebulous fear," said Laura Simpson, global director
of McCann Truth Central, during a session on privacy held by Ad Age
and IPG in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
By comparison, Amazon topped the list of companies consumers
trust with their data, with 73% of respondents citing the
e-commerce giant. It's worth noting that a majority of respondents
also named Google to this category, but that number fell from 63%
in 2011 to 53% in 2013.
Federal Trade Commission commissioner Julie Brill sat on a panel
following the survey presentation and offered her thoughts on the
findings. "I think consumers understand the first-party
relationship with Amazon and understand Amazon is doing a lot of
analysis of that first-party information," she said.
However the bigger issue is not with the consumer-facing
companies collecting data but with those data brokers, ad networks
and behavioral advertising companies most people have never heard
of, said Ms. Brill.
"I do think we need legislation around privacy. … We
actually need specific data-broker legislation," Ms. Brill said.
She later reiterated her support for a Do Not Track system that
would let people by default prevent companies from dropping
tracking cookies on their web browsers that can collect data on
their browsing behavior in order to target ads.
Ms. Brill also made the case for more consumer-friendly privacy
notices and said advertisers should take a more active role in
"The ad industry is great at informing consumers of the things
you want them to know about…I've often said if you all will
kick the lawyers out of the room and you write the privacy notices
and figure out how to give consumers immersive, short information
on what will happen with their data," Ms. Brill said.
Following the panel, Ms. Brill discussed what topics are top of
mind for the FTC at the start of the new year, including what she
has her eye on during CES.
Tim Peterson covers digital media for Advertising Age out of the publication's Los Angeles bureau. He previously reported on social media and ad tech for Adweek and worked as a reporter handling the digital marketing beat at Direct Marketing News.