I saw some interesting Forrester research this week. We asked over 4,000 consumers about Single-ID systems, which permit a profile to be used on multiple Web sites and eliminate the need to register, create and maintain separate profiles on each new site. While we didn’t ask consumers about the currently available options (such as Facebook Connect, OpenID, OAuth, etc.), the Forrester survey did explore what consumers care about when deciding whether to use a single-signon tool.
We early adopters were quick to use and see the benefits of portable IDs, so I was surprised by one big discovery out of this study: A lot of consumers aren’t yet that interested. When asked to select the most important features that would motivate them to use a single-ID tool, more than four in ten didn’t see any of them as compelling. With a list that included features as simple and appealing as “The ID worked with Yahoo,” “The ID worked with Google,” and “The ID would only be used with sites I select,” 44% of consumers surveyed instead selected “I'm not interested in creating a single ‘ID’ that works at multiple Web sites.”
There is demographic skew to this data; only 32% of young adults responded “not interested” compared to 52% of those 55 and older. Still, a significant number of people don’t yet see the benefit of portable IDs and unified registration systems.
What should marketers do with this information? Given the significant indifference, should they slow down efforts to implement single-ID profiles on their sites?
I don’t believe so, and here’s why: First of all, while many people may not understand the benefits, a lot do. Facebook Connect recently celebrated its first birthday with an announcement that 60 million Facebook users are using Facebook Connect across 80,000 Web sites.
Secondly, single-ID systems provide benefits for marketers now, and when implemented with a focus on the user needs and experience, consumers see the benefits. Take the Huffington Post, for example; thanks to their implementation of Facebook Connect, I can easily see what content my friends find interesting (which—not coincidentally—always seems relevant to my interests). So, although many consumers don’t see the benefits now, it is reasonable to expect they can and will adopt these tools as sites make the advantages more evident.
With all the buzz about Social Commerce, there was one more finding from the study that caught my eye: The number one factor that consumers say is essential for them to sign up for a portable “ID” is that it not be associated with their credit card information. Consumers are just not quite ready to make their financial data as sharable as they are their photos and status updates.