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Data Privacy

Consumers say their internet experience is broken. Here’s how we can fix it.

New research reveals that consumers understand the value exchange, but want more control over personal data

More than twice as many consumers say they’re willing to login to a website to see fewer, but more relevant ads than those who would not be willing to login.

That’s just one of several key findings revealed in our UID 2.0: Global Consumer Survey, which sought to understand the consumer perspective on the so-called value exchange of the internet. The survey, delivered as part of YouGov’s Omnibus panel, questioned consumers across the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Spain.

When it comes to the value exchange of the internet, consumers get it. More than 63 percent say they agree that advertising plays an important role in keeping apps and websites free. Further, three in five say that they’d prefer to see ads instead of having to pay for content. “Ads are a small price to pay to view for free,” said one respondent.

However, The Current reports that consumers — from Boston to Berlin, from Valencia to Ventura — are eager for a better internet experience than the one that currently exists. They want it to make more sense, be more transparent and better explained, and offer them more control over how their personal information is used. A majority of respondents, 75 percent, say they feel uninformed about the choices they make around online data and privacy; another 70 percent say they don’t understand the implications of being asked to accept cookies.

Significantly, three out of four consumers aren’t too thrilled about all their personal data sitting inside walled gardens. Given the choice, consumers say they’d prefer a single standalone sign-on — a user interface that would allow a consumer to login just once to access content across the open internet. That would potentially solve another problem that 83 percent of consumers say is annoying: being asked — again and again — to create accounts to unlock content behind datawalls or paywalls.

This new data comes at an inflection point for digital advertising, as third-party cookies go away in 2022, which creates an opportunity to build a better internet. A case in point is UID 2.0, an open source, interoperable identity solution that is seeing wide-scale adoption across the industry. The consumer facing part of this initiative has the potential to provide consumers with exactly what they want, says Dave Pickles, the chief technology officer and co-founder of The Trade Desk. “They want access to content without having to pay for it, and UID 2.0 is bringing that to life,” Pickles tells The Current.

Another element of Unified ID 2.0 solves the consumer transparency challenge. When signing in, the consumer will see a consent agreement that explains, in clear terms, how the value exchange works, as well as the options and controls available to them.

Our survey found that 79 percent of consumers would prefer to access websites without having to create unique accounts for each site. Even as the technology facilitates this access, the task ahead for the industry is making sure the consumer understands the “value transfer that’s occurring”, says Paul Ryan, the chief technology officer of Open X. “Making sure that consumers understand that in a cohesive way across publisher [sites] is incredibly important. That will speed up the consumer adoption and then, if that makes sense, it’ll turbocharge the demand-side adoption as UID 2.0 becomes more prevalent.”