The new digital persona: What online value exchange means for millennials and Gen Z

Sep 24, 2018 | Online advertising

Over three quarters of 16-34 year olds say GDPR doesn’t go far enough – yet only 11% carefully consider before accepting cookie banners, according to new research.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced to try and protect consumer’s data privacy online, yet a massive three quarters of UK millennials and Gen Z (16 – 34 year olds) do not believe it goes far enough, with 77% saying additional regulation is needed. Yet, in an apparent disconnect between opinion and reality, only one in 10 (11%) carefully consider before accepting cookies on websites, suggesting ease of accessing content online overrides concerns over data sharing.

The research by The Exchange Lab and Populus, also uncovered apparent frustrations felt by young consumers over GDPR consent options, with almost three quarters (72%) saying they feel annoyed about the amount of times they have to accept cookies to access content. Yet interestingly, a tiny 2% say they do not typically give consent, supporting the theory that consumers find it more convenient to opt-in, even if they don’t feel happy about sharing their data.

These results may imply a lack of understanding around consent requests, but 82% of respondents are aware of the GDPR, and the majority demonstrated an awareness of the role of cookies; two-thirds (65%) understand cookies are used to personalise content, and almost half (45%) know information is shared with other companies for advertising purposes.

Although the research highlights the major concerns young people have around data privacy, it indicates that these don’t necessarily extend to the use of personal information for targeted advertising. Almost three-quarters (72%) believe the use of cookies to personalise the content they see online is acceptable, while over two-thirds (68%) are happy for cookies to be used to tailor ads for personal relevance. Receiving value in exchange for their data is important to this group – almost half (47%) are happy to share personal data with brands if they get something in return. This extends to the use of social media sites – nine in 10 (91%) of 16 – 34 year olds say they would prefer to receive ads than pay for the use of Facebook or Instagram, 84% for Twitter and 79% for Snapchat.

“The report identifies a disconnect with younger consumers concerned about the use of their personal information, yet freely giving consent to data collection,” comments Chris Dobson, CEO of the Exchange Lab. “In fact, it reveals millennials and Gen Z value relevant online experiences. The encouraging trend shows that ultimately, as long as companies offer a fair value exchange and are open about their data practices, they can continue to use data responsibly for targeting and personalisation.”

The research also delivers clear pointers for brands looking to engage consumers through digital advertising. It shows a marked preference for seamless multichannel campaigns, with 60% of millennials and Gen Z preferring advertising online to feel the same as advertising on other screens, as well as for native advertising, with 41% favouring ads that match the look and feel of the social media platform on which they appear. Furthermore, 43% of respondents don’t like irrelevant ads and nearly half (47%) dislike ads that withhold the brand name until the end.

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