We Will Pay for Privacy

Over the next few years, as consumers realize how they are being tracked, measured and sold online, people will begin to pay for web applications that protect their privacy. Specifically, those who can afford to pay to protect their privacy will do so.
Mother polar bear protects her children
The Most Valuable Customers Will Migrate to Paid AppsFree web applications will gradually lose their most valuable users to paid, secure applications as consumers with the greatest purchasing power take their data to places where they can feel more comfortable interacting with candor and privacy.

User Experience Will Grow in ValueUser Experience Design and Information Architecture will be important enablers of the migration. Because ad-supported sites must compromise their information architecture and user experience in order to drive interactions with their ads, there is a tremendous opportunity for elegant and well-designed web applications that offer a significantly higher experience, while also protecting consumers’ data and privacy.

One ExampleTo see this trend beginning today, look at CloudFire, which charges a reasonable price to give consumers secure, ad-free photo sharing, with a significantly more usable and elegant user experience than any existing free photo sharing application, and a commitment to their customers that their photos will not be lost.

When I think of the major applications of social media in my life, such as photo sharing and micro-blogging through social networks, I would gladly pay $50 – $60 per year to gain absolute control over my data in each instance. I am not alone.

True, there are millions of people who do not share my preference. But those people are not the target segment for the kinds of products that I am describing. Ad-supported products will not disappear, they just won’t have their current level of access to the most valuable consumers on the Internet.

4 Responses to We Will Pay for Privacy

  1. geraldva May 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Excellent point Chris. I would probably join that movement as well and I see the opportunity for new web apps. Do you see a major impact on the adoption of SM in the business community and the government space? I realize that both communities are very concerned about security and privacy. Will this affect their adoption and use?

  2. Chris Boudreaux May 4, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    Hi, Gerald,

    It is clear that privacy and security concerns impact use of social media in both government and business — especially in highly regulated industries, such as financial services, utilities and healthcare. It will be interesting to see whether consumers partition their data in such a way that they maintain the ability to interact with companies in large social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, while securing their most private data in places like paid photo sharing utilities.

  3. geraldva May 4, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    Gerald David
    President and CEO
    3D Strategies, LLC

  4. Pasquali Don June 10, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    Privacy is not just for the wealthy.  As ordinary users recognize how their lives are being diced, sliced and sold, many are responding by taking their privacy into their own hands.  As social networks’ privacy policies are seen to be privacy violation policies individuals are responding with policies of their own. My policy is to lie, lie, lie.  If the info is not, in MY opinion, needed by the company requesting it then it doesn’t get the real data.  Instead it gets fiction.  Anonymity isn’t for criminals, it’s for realists.