Well, we’re privacy compliant.
We had to build a new polling tool to pass muster with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which kicked into gear this week. It took a six-month yeoman’s effort from our engineers, right up until Christmas. And they nailed it.
The CCPA wasn’t intended for companies like us, since we’re not spying on people or selling their personal information. We only save poll responses people voluntarily share with us. Still, we had to comply. Now, our respondents explicitly consent before we count their answers.
This time last year, I ranted about prognosticators and their New Year’s predictions, then ironically posed three prophecies of my own. First, we surmised that Tiger Woods would reestablish himself as a marketing juggernaut in 2019. He won The Masters in April, tied Sam Snead for the most wins in PGA history a few months after that, then player-coached the Americans to a triumphant win in the Presidents Cup. Check.
Second, we predicted that aging Millennials and a healthy economy would usher in a tsunami of truck and SUV sales, at the expense of sedans and other models. By September, truck and SUV purchases smashed previous records, accounting for 70% of all U.S. auto sales this year. Check.
Finally, we forecasted a much faster rate of cord-cutting in 2019 than most other experts believed. I don’t need to tell you what happened. Check.
This year, I have just one prediction, but an important one: New data privacy regulations and their consequences are going to be far more disruptive than most of you realize. Entire sub-industries in ad tech and media are going to disappear, along with countless companies and jobs. Google, Amazon, and Facebook will see their advertising powers expand, as the so-called “walled gardens” stand nearly alone in a privacy-compliant world.
If you’re a media publisher or advertiser and you aren’t bracing for this – or plotting your defenses – you’re whistling through the graveyard. Godspeed.
We’ve been on a high horse about privacy since we started. But until Cambridge Analytica came along, nobody cared. On the contrary, marketing execs normally eye-rolled us out of the room. We were Pollyannas. Why would anyone need anonymous data when it was so easy to link a person’s web browsing history to their credit card information, voter file, and anything else they can get their hands on?
But we were right. Again. And while everyone is scrambling to get legal, to figure out how to compete for ad dollars when all the rules are changing, we won’t need a New Year’s resolution. We’ll keep being what we’ve always been – a foundational, responsibly-farmed source of truth.
Now, just with less competition.
Happy New Year.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
Consumer confidence ended the year on a continued high note. Our Economic Sentiment Index reached a Christmas crescendo, the fifth consecutive positive reading and the best one since summer vacation season. Confidence in our personal financial situations and the overall U.S. economy drove the steep climb. Hopes of trade resolution with China and bipartisan passage of the USMCA seem to have helped things along. Let’s keep this good news rolling into 2020. Shall we?
Two-thirds of Americans got drunk over the holidays and their favorite poisons were all over the map. We actually wrote this one before Christmas but it was good enough to keep it around. Although 1/3rd of U.S. adults said they had no plans of touching booze during the Christmas break, the drinkers were uncannily evenly-divided in their alcohol preferences. Wine, beer, and cocktails virtually tied. As you might expect, beer and cocktails skewed toward men, wine toward women. Wine was also the most popular among Millennials and Boomers, beer among Zs and Xs, because that’s how generational cohort similarities shake out.
Amazon’s brand favorability keeps climbing, even as the composition of its fanbase is changing. You can set your watch – or your calendar – to a healthy bump in popularity of the Amazon brand every Q4 as everyone’s garages pile up with empty smiley-face cardboard boxes. And, sure enough, positive sentiment toward Amazon in our data hit a record high of 70% in December – a jump of 16% since January of 2017. But what’s particularly interesting is how the population of Amazon lovers evolved over that period, across hundreds of demographic and psychographic dimensions. Today, they are a bit more female, much more Hispanic, and more urban than they were in January of 2017. They also span the income spectrum much more diversely – with lower and lower income categories expressing their affection for Amazon.
Americans have wildly different definitions of success in their lives. There’s too much in this data for me to unwind in a short blurb, so I’ll probably write more about it later, but I was fascinated when I stumbled upon the chart below in our platform. It explains so much about our socio-political divisions today, even our generational (“OK Boomer”) warfare. For sure, half of Americans consider family and home life more important than their career or wealth (29% together). It’s the cross-tabs, however, that paint a more interesting picture. Higher income people value their careers and wealth because of course they do. But so do minorities, perhaps because historically they’ve been economically disadvantaged in America. Gen Xers in the 45-54 range are the most obsessed with financial success, as retirement begins staring them in the face, while Gen Zs care most about their careers because they’re probably being told to. And if you’re one of the people who define success based on your “romantic relationships,” maybe consider getting rid of all the sharp objects in your house.
In related news – one last holiday stat, I promise – apparently holiday break-ups are becoming more popular among the younger crowd for some reason. In fact, 6% of people have broken up with someone ON the holiday itself. See for yourself.
And finally, here are our most popular questions from the holiday break:
Hoping you’re well.