The Public’s Trust in Advertising Practitioners Improves, Remains Low

January 27, 2023

Few Americans hold much trust in advertising, and that sentiment extends to advertising practitioners. Indeed, just 15% of American adults rate the honesty and ethical standards of advertising practitioners as “very high” (2%) or “high” (13%), according to the latest annual survey on this topic across professions by Gallup.

If something can be said for this figure, it’s that it’s at least higher than last year’s paltry 11%. In fact, the 15% figure from this survey – fielded in late 2022 – is the highest on record dating back to 2006, topping the previous high of 14% from 2013.

Still, the 15% who have a high trust in advertising professionals is far outweighed by the 41% who have either “low” (31%) or “very low” (10%) trust in them.

Female respondents tend to have a little more trust in advertising practitioners’ honesty and ethics than their male counterparts do, with 17% reporting a “very high” or “high” level, compared to 13% of men. Interestingly, while the marketing and advertising industry remains far from diverse in its leadership and in its creative, non-white adults surveyed by Gallup are strikingly more likely to have a high level of trust for advertising practitioners than white adults (24% and 9%, respectively).

In a potentially positive sign for the advertising industry, youth are the age cohort most likely to rate practitioners’ honesty and ethics as “high” or “very high,” with 23% of 18-34-year-olds doing so. That compares with 14% of respondents ages 35-54 and 10% of those ages 55 and older.

However, trust in advertising professional decreases alongside educational attainment, from 22% of those with a high school degree or less to 8% of college graduates.

Meanwhile, the five most trusted professions for honesty and ethics in 2022 (among those professions listed) are:

  • Nurses (79% rating as “very high” or “high”);
  • Medical doctors (62%);
  • Pharmacists (58%);
  • High school teachers (52%); and 
  • Police officers (50%).

Trust in journalists remains low, with 23% reporting high or very high trust. And the public’s view of business executives has dropped again – only 14% of respondents gave business executives’ ethics and honesty high marks, compared to 20% in 2019, and falling behind advertising practitioners.

Finally, the lowest-rated profession is telemarketers. Just 6% of respondents gave them a “high” or “very high” rating for honesty and ethics.

A summary of the findings from Gallup can be viewed here.

About the Data: The responses are based on 1,020 telephone interviews of US adults (18+) conducted in November and December 2022.


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