What are public attitudes to digital messaging encryption, and what do they mean for tech companies and policy-makers?

Prof Victoria Baines knows, because she asked the UK's largest digital newsbrand audience.

The respected Gresham College IT professor used our new Sun Polls product to survey 48,000 readers. The results are helping her illuminate the future of cryptography. And now the same capability is on offer to brands and academics across the country.

Audience insight

Sun Polls lets organisations gather consumer insights and sentiment on a broad range of topics from The Sun’s large and representative reader audience.

Polls can be placed within specific editorial contexts to ensure they reach consumers who are engaged with a specific topic.

With TheSun.co.uk reaching up to two thirds of adults in the UK each month, according to PAMCo's Q4 2022 readership release, this is a powerful and unique way to access relevant audiences at scale with unprecedented reach and speed.

Sun Polls enables brands to refine their advertising and marketing campaigns in real-time, based on genuine consumer insight. With declining availability of third-party data, we think gaining real insight into actual consumer sentiment will become ever more important for increasing advertising effectiveness.

Better understanding

For her research, Prof Baines wanted to better understand consumers' attitudes to end-to-end messaging encryption, having been surprised by the results of a survey in a 2020 Sun story on the topic.

"The Sun very kindly agreed to re-run this poll for us," she said, during a February 2023 lecture to reveal the findings.

In a news story on the topic, Prof Baines used Sun Polls to ask: "Should Facebook encrypt all of your chats?" She said: "15,500 votes were cast in just three days." Respondents' views were mixed, but supported encryption by Facebook.

A second question asked: "Should the government have access to your online chats? Dr Baines said: "33,000 votes were cast in just a few days." The answer was an overwhelming"no".

"What these responses here tell me is that members of the public understand that the decision whether or not to deploy end-to-end encryption is not as straightforward as presented by some of the most ardent advocates for or against it."

Speaking before the lecture, Prof Baines told us:

"Sun Polls has been hugely valuable to me in helping to inform my research around citizen attitudes to encryption.

"The Sun’s audience is engaged and interested in the world around them, making them an ideal sample for attitudinal insight.

"By giving me quick access to a massive pool of real world respondents, Sun Polls has helped me to validate my findings against a truly representative consumer panel."

Power to the people

It's not only academics who can benefit from Sun Polls. Brands can also generate valuable insights.

Travel Republic, a travel operator celebrating its twentieth anniversary, wanted to know more about what makes its customers tick.

Results of its Sun Polls survey ended up powering a whole new marketing campaign for the brand.

Antonio Fellino, Managing Director, Travel Republic said:

"The feedback from the Sun Polls gave us valuable insight into current consumer habits and sentiment around booking holidays.

"This was then used to inform our ‘Power to the People’ Manifesto, with the key themes focused on ‘Customer service you can trust’, and ‘Good value for money’.

"The Sun’s readership is a great reflection of our core customer base, and so knowing what they want from their travel partner and what drives their travel decisions is vital for us to know.

"The intel we got from the polls and particularly the speed of response has been of great benefit to us and is helping us drive our vision to be the People’s Travel Champion."

The power of polling

The Sun has long been the people’s paper and our Sun Polls tool has proven invaluable in keeping our finger on the pulse of the nation, to ensure we reflect the voice of the people.

In Q4 2022, TheSun.co.uk reached an average of 6.8m unique visitors every day in the UK, according to PAMCo's Q4 2022 readership release.

Our audience is tremendously responsive to polls, which means we can quickly deliver a large panel response that tells you what real people are thinking right now.

As brands look at new ways to better understand and reach their consumers, especially with the decline of cookies, Sun Polls has the potential to be a key part of this new data mix.