Data collection and monetization is a billion-dollar industry, and it’s only expected to grow. In fact, according to some reports, the big data industry is forecasted to be worth just under $300Bn by 2023. For many data monetization companies this is a dream. But what about the individual’s whose data is being collected and monetized? How do they feel?

I recently walked into a store and was served a digital coupon. Immediately upon entering, my phone pinged and there it was. To me, this was eerie. It made me feel like “big brother” was watching my every move (though in reality it’s actually big data). I told a younger colleague about it, but she disagreed. I tried to articulate how big data companies collect our Personally Identifiable Information (PII), storing and selling it to other companies. She rebutted, suggesting the collection of her data made her life more convenient, like the immediacy of a coupon pinging your phone when you enter a store, as opposed to having to take time to look for it beforehand.

My conversation made me wonder: Am I alone in distrusting the way big data collects my Personally Identifiable Information? Given my access to Engine’s CARAVAN omnibus services, I decided to launch a survey and find out.

Here’s what I found:

  • Roughly ¾ of both men and women are equally concerned about PII
  • Older cohorts (ages 55+), are significantly more concerned about PII than their younger (ages 18-34) counterparts
  • Ironically, younger generations are willing to pay to keep their PII secure vs. Baby Boomers
  • Households with kids are significantly more willing to pay to keep their PII secure vs. households without kids
  • Men are more confident than women when sharing PII
  • Younger aged (18-44) believe they know where their PII is being shared

The research validated my assumptions.

Nearly 75% of both men and women today are concerned about their PII misuse. Those 55+ are significantly more concerned than their younger counterparts (18-34). And Millennials, in particular, have much more confidence in their PII being secure.

While I’m currently not alone in my fear of the misuse of my Personably Identifiable Information, if the trends above continue, I one day could be. With the massive gap in generational attitude toward PII, it seems confidence in how one’s data is being used may stem from growing up with online tools. In fact, those aged 18-44 believe they know exactly where and how their PII is being shared and, comparatively to Baby Boomers, are more willing to pay to ensure its security. This would mean, as younger generations more fluently integrate their lives with technology, the fear of big data could potentially begin to dissipate even more. Alongside it, we may also see a massive spike in personal data security companies marketing to younger generations.

However the tides may turn, one thing is for sure, it will be interesting to see how the next fully immersed digital generation will react.

-Joe Mann, VP of Engine Insights

About the Survey:

This report presents the findings of a CARAVAN survey conducted by Engine among a sample of 1,003 adults comprising 501 men and 502 women 18 years of age and older.

The online omnibus study is conducted twice a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older. This survey was live on July 25-28, 2019.

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