Few Consumers Trust Social Media Marketing, Internet Ads

Forrester-Consumer-Trust-Advertising-Promotion-Types-Mar2013A Forrester Research survey [download page] of almost 60,000 US online adults and more than 15,000 European online adults reveals that few trust common types of digital advertising and promotions such as social media posts, ads on websites, and text messages from companies or brands. Looking solely at US respondents, only 15% trust social media marketing, 12% information about companies on mobile applications, 10% ads on websites, and 9% text messages from companies or brands. In each case, European respondents were even less likely to show trust in those forms of advertising and promotion.

Consumers display far more trust in what Forrester tabs “self-selected digital pull content.” That refers to content such as brand or product recommendations from friends and family (trusted by 70% of US respondents), professionally written online reviews (55%), consumer-written online reviews (46%), and natural search engine results (43%). (It’s interesting to see professionally written reviews gain more trust than consumer-written ones, as previous research has found the opposite to be true, at least when it comes to consumer electronics purchases.)

Simply put, consumers appear to be more trusting of content they can find on their own terms (and that may be independent of the brands themselves), rather than that which is pushed out to them by brands.

The researchers recommend that marketers find new ways to connect with “always on” consumers, suggesting that branded content has the power to do so. In order to effectively use content for brand building, marketers should keep the focus on their business purpose, always keep in mind the context in which their content will be accessed, “tell good stories”, and continuously measure impact and adapt accordingly.

About the Data: Forrester describes its methodology as follows:

Forrester conducted the North American Technographics® Online Benchmark Survey (Part1), Q2 2012 (US, Canada) in April and May 2012 of 58,068 US and 5,635 Canadian online adults ages 18 to 88. For results based on randomly chosen samples of these sizes (N = 58,068 in the US and N = 5,635 in Canada), there is 95% confidence that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 0.4% of what they would be if the entire population of US online individuals ages 18 and older had been surveyed and plus or minus 1.3% of what they would be if the entire population of Canadian online individuals ages 18 and older had been surveyed. Forrester weighted the data by age, gender, income, broadband adoption, and region to demographically represent the adult US and Canadian online populations. The survey sample size, when weighted, was 57,499 in the US and 5,347 in Canada.

(Note: Weighted sample sizes can be different from the actual number of respondents to account for individuals generally underrepresented in online panels.) Please note that this was an online survey. Respondents who participate in online surveys generally have more experience with the Internet and feel more comfortable transacting online. The data is weighted to be representative of the total online population on the weighting targets mentioned, but this sample bias may produce results that differ from Forrester’s offline benchmark survey. The sample was drawn from members of MarketTools’ online panel, and respondents were motivated by receiving points that could be redeemed for a reward. The sample provided by MarketTools is not a random sample. While individuals have been randomly sampled from MarketTools’ panel for this particular survey, they have previously chosen to take part in the MarketTools online panel.

Forrester conducted the European Technographics® Online Benchmark Survey, Q3 2012 fielded in July 2012 of 20,778 European individuals in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. This survey is based on an online population ages 12 and older (16 and older in Poland) who are members of the Ipsos-MORI online panel. Ipsos weighted the data by age, sex, online frequency, and hours spent online to demographically represent the online adult population in each country. For results based on a randomly chosen sample of this size (N = 20,778), there is 95% confidence that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 0.7% of what they would be if the entire population of Western European online individuals ages 12 and older had been surveyed. This confidence interval can widen to 3.1% when the data is analyzed at a country level. The sample used by Ipsos is not a random sample; while individuals have been randomly sampled from the Ipsos panel for this survey, they have previously chosen to take part in the Ipsos online panel.”

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