Consumer attitudes to privacy, data & consent in 2022
Donna Herron
Lucie Heseltine

By Donna H and Lucie H

Social Media, PPC

Consumer attitudes to privacy, data & consent in 2022

User actions, feelings and motivations relating to privacy and tracking have evolved drastically in the last year or so. As marketers, it can be hard to keep track.

Given the increased media coverage of iOS, cookies and privacy changes, unsurprisingly more UK consumers than ever describe themselves as ‘being aware of GDPR (Global Data Protection Regulation) and what it means’ — 54.9% of us, to be precise.

Needless to say, privacy, data and consent should be high on your marketing priorities list in 2022. To find out what people are thinking about privacy right now, we've dived into the latest data to help you stay on track and meet those growing customer expectations.

An infographic providing facts and figures about evolving consumer attitudes to privacy.

Consumers are becoming increasingly savvier and more protective over their data - who’s collecting it, benefitting from it and even selling it on.

One clever, simple technique we’ve heard some consumers are employing to track their data’s journey is to put the name of the brand they’re sharing their data with as their middle name in any form. When they’re contacted in future, it’s much clearer who sold what!

Discussions around data and privacy are sometimes characterised by quite a bit of jargon. Understanding what is meant by some of the more technical terms — GDPR, cookies, consent, data collection and so on — can help to provide some context for these behavioural and attitude changes in consumers.

So, let’s quickly break that down too.

What do we mean by GDPR?

In 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation was introduced to give people living in the European Union better control over their personal data in what was becoming an increasingly data-driven - and digital - world.

The regulations set out by the European Union apply to all businesses who operate within the EU or who provide services to people within the EU. And whilst the UK is no longer a part of the EU, GDPR still applies here.

What do we mean by privacy, cookies and consent?

Over the years, brands have had pretty much unlimited access to personal data allowing them to target consumers and track their movements online. However, in recent years there has been a backlash from consumers due to a feeling that brands know a bit “too much” about them as individuals which has therefore triggered an increased desire for privacy and better control over the data they share with brands.

Perhaps one of the most common forms of consent you will be aware of online is the ‘cookie’ pop up which typically appears once you land on a brand’s website either for the first time, or having not previously accepted cookies. In most cases, you will be given the option to ‘accept default cookies’ or ‘manage preferences’ to tailor the data you are sharing with the brand. It’s important to note that if a user does not click ‘accept cookies’ then they have not given their consent to share their data, and therefore they can not be tracked and their request for privacy will be honoured.

For further reading, we’d advise you to check out our comprehensive guide to iOS, cookies & privacy.

Why - and how - is consumer data collected?

Consumer data is typically collected for one of three reasons:

  1. To gain insight into who the consumer is (their demographics)

  2. To track the user’s movements online, to attribute sales, leads or traffic to online channels and better understand the customer journey

  3. To personalise advertising experiences delivered via PPC, Paid Social and Email Marketing.

In Google Analytics a user's data can be used to (anonymously) track the customer’s journey once they have landed on a website. This helps marketers to understand which channels are helping to drive traffic, sales or leads, demographics information such as age, gender, location and interests.

This Google Analytics data can then be imported into Google Ads to enable marketers to see which campaigns, keywords and ads are delivering the best results. The sharing of data also facilitates the use of dynamic remarketing, allowing advertisers to serve highly personalised ads to previous site visitors based on their behaviour on the site.

For those rare marketers who are choosing not to use Google Analytics, it is also possible to ‘cut out the middle-man’ by adding a snippet of Google Ads code to the site to collect this conversion and audience data directly from the site. All of this data paints a clearer picture of which paid activity has been driving success, under what specific circumstances. This gives Google Ads the tools it needs to use sophisticated machine learning to build on this and deliver more of the same through automated bidding strategies.

On Meta, your (hashed) data received from your website and shared with Meta via their browser pixel and server-based tracking, allows marketers to retarget people who have visited a brand's website with ads on the Meta (Facebook and Instagram) platforms. This also allows Meta to “get credit” for any conversions that come as a result of your advertising on Facebook or Instagram. Each Social Media platform has their own equivalent tracking, allowing them to do the same.

Behavioural marketing tools, such as Klaviyo, can also track your interactions with a brand’s website to deliver a personalised email experience, for example sending abandoned cart emails where a user has added an item to their basket but not completed their purchase. These kinds of tools rely on you already having shared your email address with the brand.

However, all of the above examples all require consent from the consumer, either by way of them accepting cookies on a brand’s website or sharing first party data, such as an email address. If a user does not provide consent, then this data is not visible to marketers.

Boosting your brand in 2022 despite shifting attitudes to privacy

So, it’s all good being armed with the latest insights into consumer attitudes to privacy, but how can it benefit my marketing campaigns?

Now that we've talked you through the latest privacy and tracking trends, it's time for a little less conversation and a little more action, please.

For example, if you're in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry you may want to consider ways you could increase consumer trust by ensuring your customers have a clear understanding of how their data is used by your company.

Alternatively, if you're a DTC brand, you may want to review how you currently track your marketing success given nearly a third of people in the UK are opting out of being tracked on your website - making it harder to attribute those cross-channel sales.

Rather than being seen as a hindrance, evolving attitudes towards privacy, data and consent can present an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your audience. Have a gander at our guide to getting started with a zero and first-party data strategy - increasingly important for marketers wanting to boost their data sets in 2022 and beyond without relying on third-party tools.

Would you like some help putting these statistics to work for your brand? Get in touch - our team of experts are on hand to help you every step of the way.

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Post by


Head of Social

Since forming Extreme’s social media department back in 2012, our Head of Social Donna and her team’s work has been recognised nationally. With extensive experience spanning mutiple sectors, Donna specialises in social strategy, ideation and paid social advertising.

Post by


Paid Media Lead

Lucie is our lead on all paid media activity, overseeing our talented paid media team and managing the strategy and implementation of all paid search campaigns across multiple platforms. Fully Google qualified and working directly at Google prior to joining Extreme, there's not much Lucie doesn't know about PPC!

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