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Recommendations from friends and family members have long held the most influence in consumer buying decisions, as evidenced by MarketingCharts’ own primary research. New data from Deloitte indicates that such recommendations continue to wield great influence – but what about when recommendations come online from social media circles?

As it turns out, while consumers don’t see social recommendations as being as influential as recommendations from friends and family (presumably made offline), they do view them as holding as much influence as another stalwart, TV advertising.

Specifically, more than one-third (36%) of the 2,131 US consumers aged 14 and older surveyed by Deloitte reported that recommendations from friends and family highly influence their buying decisions. That was double the proportion who cited a high influence from TV ads (18%) and online recommendations from social media circles (17%).

Interestingly, Gen Z (14-19) and Millennial (20-33) respondents were far above-average in reporting a high impact from family and friend recommendations. That’s consistent with a body of research indicating that word-of-mouth has a stronger role with youth than with older adults.

Recommendations from social media circles – less surprisingly – also hold more sway among the younger generations, with more than one-quarter (27%) of Gen Z and Millennial respondents saying they have a high influence on purchase decisions. For the youngest group, this means that more are highly influenced by social recommendations than by TV ads (which nonetheless retain strong influence among the public at large).

Meanwhile, Gen Z and Millennials say they’re slightly more likely to learn about new TV shows from social networks than from TV ads, in contrast to consumers at-large.

All of this adds to the research indicating that social media is becoming a more pervasive force in youths’ decision-making, as earlier studies show that social advertising is also rising up the ranks. In other words, between social ads and social recommendations, youth are finding plenty of purchase influencers when using social platforms.

Other Advertising Formats

Of course there’s more to ads than TV, which the analysts say faces a challenge in multitasking, as virtually all Gen Z and Millennial respondents said that they multitask while watching TV.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that other formats will be more successful, however. More than 8 in 10 respondents will skip an online video ad if allowed, although on the bright side almost half say they would pay more attention to an ad they can skip versus one where that’s not a possibility. (If they haven’t already skipped it…)

Meanwhile, mobile ads aren’t hitting the mark yet (as marketers are the first to say), with two-thirds of the survey’s respondents (and more than 7 in 10 Gen Z and Millennial respondents) finding the majority of them to be not relevant or useful. Of course, mobile ads’ relevance matters less than their interruptive nature, which has been behind the rise of ad blocking.

As for ad blocking, almost half (45%) of Millennials surveyed by Deloitte profess to using ad-blocking software, with almost as many (40%) using them on their smartphones.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 2,131 US consumers aged 14 and older, fielded from November 4-16, 2016.

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