Asian consumers willing to give up privacy for rewards

Consumers in Asia, compared with Europe, are less concerned about privacy and will share personal data for free services or better ads.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Consumers in Asia are generally more willing to divulge their personal data in return for free services and better targeted ads.

According to Trevor Healy, CEO of mobile advertising company Amobee, there were differences in attitudes between consumers in Europe and Asia. Citing findings from a survey the company conducted, he said in Indonesia, for example, most respondents were willing to share as much personal data as they did on social networks if they saw benefits in return.

"One of the questions we asked was would you share your data, if we were to give you five free SMS messages a day?" said Healy during a media event held here Wednesday.

In contrast, consumers in Europe exhibited a more guarded attitude, which was in line with the region's push for heavy legislations governing user privacy, the CEO pointed out.

However, he said the Amobee survey revealed contrasting attitudes even within Europe, in particular, between respondents aged above and below 40--where the younger group was more liberal. The survey had a sample size of over 100 respondents, and is set to be published later this quarter.

Respondents in both regions, though, were similarly turned off by "retargeting"--the practice of targeted online advertising where ads would be repeatedly served to visitors to a Web site based on their browsing history in order to convert a sale.

Customers were becoming increasingly offended by such marketing strategies, said Healy, noting that "user fatigue is too high".

Advertisers should instead focus on "pretargeting", where ads are served based on analyzing the profile of the customer through their location, roaming habits, and other references, he advised.

Advertising for middle class relatively ineffective
Healy said online advertisements would generally see better returns when targeted at consumers in high-income and bottom-end segments rather than middle-income consumers.

"There is a lot of talk about the rising middle class in Asia, but the problem is they have a self-selection process," he noted, referring to how it would be harder to change these consumers' minds on what to buy.

He also pointed to feature phone ads as a segment commonly neglected by companies because "the tech is not as sexy".

He explained that there were massive opportunities in emerging markets such as the Philippines, with many experiencing for the first time the need to buy fast-moving consumer goods. Consumers in these markets still use older phones such as hand-me-downs so the main way to push advertisements to them is through these devices, Healy said.

Amobee's parent company, Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), had expressed interest to further invest and develop the feature phone ads market during its earnings call in May.

The U.S. company was acquired in March for US$321 million as part of the Singapore telco's plans to diversify its business.

Healy also revealed that three-dimensional (3D) animated ads--based on technology obtained through its acquisition of Sillicon Valley startup, AdJitsu--would likely roll out in Singapore in the next quarter.

Amobee bought the company in May for an undisclosed sum in a move to "accelerate the innovation of highly interactive and spectacular 3D mobile ads", according to its statement then.

Editorial standards