Posted July 23, 2012 3:39 pm by with 0 comments

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I’d start this post by saying that people don’t trust Facebook, but that wouldn’t really be new news, would it?

How about this? People trust grocery stores more than they trust Facebook with their personal data. To quote Larry the Cable Guy, “now that’s funny, right there.”

This revelation comes from a poll conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Placecast. Placecast is in the location-based, mobile messaging market, so they’ve got a little stake in the outcome of this report, but nothing to be suspicious about.

Here’s how it shakes out. Placecast has been doing a series of studies under the umbrella of The Alert Shopper. Their goal is to find out how shoppers feel about different kinds of marketing. In this, their third time out, they asked folks to think about their privacy as it relates to personal data for promotional purposes.

At the high end of the trust meter, we have grocery stores. 81% of people were comfortable giving personal information (like signing up for a loyalty card) in order to get customized coupons and deals.

Amazon also fared pretty well. 66% of people were fine with Amazon using their browser and purchase history to suggest items you might like to purchase.

It gets pretty murky after that.

Shoppers did not like it when credit card companies, merchants or cell phone companies used data to send out promotional material by mail, email or text. But getting spammed by your credit card company still ranked higher than Facebook, the poster child for invasion of privacy.

Only 33% of people said they were comfortable with Facebook using their profile information to target ads. The lowest marks on the whole survey. Seriously people? Let’s think this through.

Now, I’m not a big fan of Facebook, but I think they’re getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop here. Grocery stores, I get. Sign up once with your email and phone number and you save money on things you need. That’s a good trade. But Amazon? They’re using your data to push more products on you. And Google? How is Google using your search history to target ads any different than what Facebook is doing?

I’ll answer my own question, because Facebook is personal. It’s a place where we house our daily thoughts, photos, our triumphs and even our failures. It feels strange to think of Facebook’s little mice gathering up that info in order to pitch products and services. I post that I’m in the market for a new home and suddenly I’m seeing ads for real estate agents. I post that I got a raise and now it’s investment options. I post a wild night in Vegas and ads for a rehab center show up in my sidebar.

Okay, I’m exaggerating, (maybe), but that’s what it feels like. And that’s why people are uncomfortable with Facebook doing what Google does and does well.

The point for marketers? That once again, Facebook ads might not be the way to go. People clearly don’t trust them. From this report we could go so far as to say the distrust them and by association, distrust your company.

What do you think? Is that too far a leap? Is the lack of faith folks have in Facebook’s ability to keep their data private a problem for marketers? Or is Facebook advertising worth the risk?