A survey of 500 American consumers by Lab42 reveals a healthy dose of skepticism about the accuracy of claims made in ads. The study, which examined broad attitudes towards advertising in all its forms (including print, TV, internet, and social media), found just 3% of respondents believing that claims made in ads are “very accurate,” with far more (19%) believing them to be “very exaggerated.” All told, the proportion finding ads to be at least somewhat exaggerated far outweighed the proportion believing them to be at least somewhat accurate (76% vs. 24%).
Looking at some specific examples of ads that are met with consumer skepticism, the survey results show that 96% of respondents think that half or more weight loss ads are photoshopped, 87% are of the same opinion about cleaning product ads, as are 80% about shampoo ads.
Of course, attitudes towards advertising differ when it comes to the medium. April 2012 survey results from Nielsen, for example, demonstrate that consumers around the world are far more trusting of ads on TV than of ads online or on mobile phones.
So how do consumers respond to these exaggerated ads? A plurality of Lab42 survey respondents said they wish claims were more accurate (38%), while a high proportion also say they know what ads are “trying to do” (32%). A further 17% wish there were laws to regulate ads, while 13% either just enjoy the ads (8%) or don’t pay attention (5%).
Overall, despite all their doubts about advertising, consumers were more likely to prefer to purchase products due to brand advertising than to reject those purchases outright because of brand ads (31% vs. 21%).
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