Canadians would sell all their data to a brand for $2,000: Microsoft

Canadians and other global consumers are getting more savvy about the idea that marketers want a piece of their personal data, and expect to see value in return for giving it up, according to research from Microsoft Advertising released today.

Natasha Hritzuk, senior director of global insights for Microsoft Corp. unveiled the Canadian data at an Advertising Week event in Toronto. The research was conducted by Microsoft in partnership with the Future Laboratory & IPG Mediabrands around the world, targeting nine different countries and a total more than 9,000 consumers including 1,050 in Canada.

Hritzuk detailed data points around three of the trends showing how Canadian consumers expect to interact with online marketers and how technology will help to enable them by analyzing their behaviour. Hrtizuk also delved into how these expectations jibe with privacy conerns and personal information.

Value Me

About one in three Canadians are aware their data is valuable to brands and marketers, according to Microsoft. The younger the consumer, the greater the awareness of this trend. That data is negotiable as well, with 53 per cent saying they’re more likely to buy from brands that offer rewards and 32 per cent saying they’d sell their data to the right brand at the right price – the average pricing being $2,168.

It’s a simple expectation of consumers, Hritzuk says. “If I’m going to give you my data, I want something back in return, it’s about reciprocity.”

Marketers must show they value consumer’s data by being as transparent as possible when they are taking it and what they are using it for, she adds. Consumers must also feel they have control over their own data. Policies that collect user data by default and require the consumer opt out might not be the best approach.

“Opting in is moving closer in that direction. That puts the consumer in control rather than in a more


Microsoft’s research found 46 per cent of global consumers are aware of digital devices and services that offer filtered messages, calls, alerts, and content at different times. More than half of consumers expect brands to be aware of the right moment to send them a message, and 55 per cent are interested in future technology that will be able to predict when users want or need to be connected, and turn on or off accordingly.

The trend we’re seeing here is a desire by consumers to remain connected without feeling overloaded by the information services they’re connected to, Hritzuk says. People may turn off their smartphone at night, but they are still getting pushed updates and messages in the meantime. When they switch back on in the morning, they can feel overwhelmed as the avalanche of data tumbles in.

Technology that can filter out what consumers don’t need to see, or what they really do need to see is in demand. Take for example e-mail services that are categorizing messages into categories, highlighting important messages, and setting aside spam.

“It’s that intersection between being switched on and switched off in an intelligent way,” Hritzuk says. “Is there something important I should be paying attention to? Does something important need to be flagged?”

Age of Serendipity

This is the trend that presents the greatest immediate opportunity for marketers in Canada, Microsoft says. More than four in 10 Canadians are expecting technology to deliver surprising tailored experiences that “feel like coincidences,” the research reveals. Thirteen per cent love digital devices and services that provide them with new recommendations or content without actively seeking them out, and an additional 28 per cent like to be provided with recommendations based on their previous behaviour.

“You need to understand people’s needs and motivations,” Hrtizuk says. “You can’t get away from that behavioural data. It’s not a new science, it’s called ethnography.”

To illustrate the concept, Hritzuk gives an example of customer service she’d like to see in her own life. A frequent flier of British Airways, she often finds herself sitting in the airline’s passenger lounge and ordering a glass of champagne. Imagine if they were smart enough to see her check in for her flight, then be ready to greet her with that glass of bubbly when she entered.

“It doesn’t take that much to understand that’s a pattern of behaviour, to understand that’s what I want and it makes me feel special,” she says.

Though using behavioural data can have a dark side, she cautions. Marketers must avoid pushing messages to consumers when they don’t want them or when they’re not expecting it, or it may feel creepy.

The bottom line takeaway from the research is that marketers have their work cut out for them, Hritzuk says.

“Consumers’ expectations and needs are slightly ahead of where we are as marketers and advertisers,” she says. “This is a great opportunity for marketers to move swiftly to catch up.”

This isn’t the complete bundle of digital trends research from Microsoft Advertising. The company plans to release four more trends in the coming months – two in March and two in April.



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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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