Posts tagged with "Privacy concerns"

Home free: Amazon sends gratis samples to its most gung-ho shoppers

January 9, 2019

Axios reported on January 8 that online retail giant Amazon has a “stealth pilot” in progress—testing whether consumer brands such as Maybelline and Folgers can pique consumer interest by sending out free samples.

The brands pay Amazon to ship out their complimentary goodies, based on what the popular website already knows its frequent customers are most likely to buy.

Everyone likes a freebie—and by using samples as “targeted ads,” Amazon is playing on its major strength as a trusted delivery service of everyday goods, Axios said. What’s more, this is a new gambit that Amazon is betting its biggest competitors—Google and Facebook— cannot duplicate.

Indeed, the Seattle-based tech giant has the purchasing data and logistics infrastructure to offer samples of actual products, whereas Facebook and Google currently can only offer display ads or search ads, respectively, for certain kinds of consumer packaged goods brands.

To date, Amazon, itself, has made most of its roughly $5 billion in ad revenue through its own display ads. But the company now says that marrying old-school samples with its customer data will provide brands “a higher likelihood of conversion than display ads,” according to a summer job posting.

With 100 million subscribers to its Prime services alone, Amazon certainly has the numbers and the established long-term relationships with customers who purchase goods regularly, to make this strategy work, Axios pointed out.

“Having this huge installed base of users, or really Prime subscribers, and putting something in the box that people will have a high proclivity for liking — that seems like a brilliant Amazon strategy,” Rich Greenfield, a managing director and media analyst at BTIG Research, told the news outlet.

Samples of new products are sent to customers selected using machine learning based on Amazon’s data about consumer habits, according to recent job postings and details listed on its site.

Right now, Amazon is keeping the pilot project under wraps among its other advertisers, but its legal terms for advertisers include details about how its sample program functions. “No later than the date specified by Amazon, Advertiser will deliver to Amazon at the location(s) designated by Amazon and at Advertiser’s expense, all Samples to be delivered or distributed by Amazon,” the terms say.

Most analysts are bullish on the program, Axios reports. However, there could be privacy concerns.

“Amazon sent me a random coffee sample!” said one Twitter user in August. “Is it because I have like 15 [different] types of coffee in my cart?” A package pictured in the tweet included both Amazon and Folgers branding, and a link to a website devoted to the new coffee offering.

On its website, Amazon promises that privacy conscious consumers will have the option to opt out. But will confidentiality win out over avid consumption? Stay tuned.

Research contact: @rebeccazisser

Majority of Americans would try a genetics kit

April 4, 2018

If you have exhausted family trees, municipal records, psychics, and horoscopes in your search for information on your heritage and medical history, now there’s a new and slightly more reliable source: Most Americans are interested in using DNA testing to understand more about their health and ancestry, according to a findings of a national survey commissioned by 23andMe.

The survey—conducted on behalf of the personal genetics company among 1,000 U.S. adults by Kelton Global in 2017— also revealed an opportunity for education, illustrating that people’s strong interest in genetics is out ahead of their understanding of the science.

For example, nearly three-fourths of those surveyed (74%) said they were interested in testing, but about the same percentage of people (75% percent) didn’t know that humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes.

And while they are interested, few Americans have gone ahead with a DNA test yet. Indeed, according to the researchers, fewer than 8% of respondents said they actually had performed an at-home DNA test.

Why not? Some of the barriers included the cost of testing, and testing simply not being top-of-mind.

Only 17% of those surveyed said their concerns about privacy were keeping them from testing. While about 80% of respondents admitted that they had privacy concerns around DNA testing, much of that concern stemmed from not knowing how their data would be protected.

About 88% of respondents said they didn’t know or understand what sort of precautions testing companies take to secure this information. Four out of five respondents said they’d be more willing to take a genetic test, if they were certain their privacy was being protected. Interestingly, the survey also showed that individuals who had privacy concerns were actually more likely to want to test, than those who did not have privacy concerns.

What’s more, about two-thirds would be more likely to test, if they knew that their data would be used to make new genetic discoveries and power research into new cures or treatments.

Most respondents (about 77%) said they know that genetics plays a role in the risk for certain diseases, and about 90% said they were aware that DNA testing could inform them about their ancestry.

Finally, 94% said that—whether it is information about their health, or ancestry, or traits—they believe that they have a right to at-home DNA testing to directly access this type of genetic information.

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