Advertising is the least trusted source of information about brands and services among consumers, according to a recent report from Kantar Media. As advertising becomes increasingly targeted based on online activity, consumers are at risk of being put off by ads that feel too intrusive, per the report.
When asked which sources they particularly trusted, the lowest percentage (38%) of respondents cited advertising. This response tracks in the context of the advertising industry’s longstanding issues with consumer trust and enjoyment, particularly in the US. Respondents from each of the countries surveyed trusted advertising the least, with those in Germany, China and the UK being particularly distrusting of ads.
Advertising: Intrusiveness vs Relevance
The trust consumers have in advertising is at risk of deteriorating further, as the use of consumer data becomes more frequent and potentially insensitive. Overall, more than half (54%) of respondents agreed that targeted ads based on past online activity are intrusive. This was felt particularly strongly by those respondents older 65, among whom 6 in 10 (61%) agreed.
In fact, the majority of those over 65 don’t think increased relevance makes up for intrusiveness – 56% of them disagreed that they like to see relevant ads based on previous web browsing activities. In contrast, respondents ages 18-34 were more in favor of more relevant ads, with 43% agreeing that they liked seeing them and 33% ambivalent.
Attitudes to relevance also vary across global markets, with half of Chinese respondents agreeing that they like to see relevant ads, while about half (52%) of German respondents disagree.
Overall, consumers are not overwhelmingly for or against relevance based on browsing data, according to this report. This hits on the delicate balance that advertisers must strike between relevance and intrusiveness, particularly when the trade-off looks different across age groups and countries.
Where Consumers Seek Out Trusted Brand Information
So, where are consumers going for trusted information about brands and services? Overwhelmingly, respondents trust friends and family (93%). Research has previously shown that recommendations of friends or family members have far more influence over purchase decisions than influencers or celebrities. Indeed, the study results indicate that word-of-mouth still matters in the digital age, with many brands striving to become ‘talkworthy’.
Review sites follow close behind as the second-most trusted source overall (91%), and somewhat surprisingly the most trusted by respondents in Argentina, Brazil and the US. Online reviews consistently show up as a trusted source of information for shoppers in other research – consumers trust reviews more than influencer endorsements, value them highly in their buying experience, and find that they build trust more than fair prices do.
News and information websites were the next-most trusted source among respondents (76%), followed by printed newspaper or magazine articles (73%), product or company websites (70%), blogs/vlogs (65%), and social media platforms (51%). While relative trust ratings were the same across age groups, those ages 65+ were far less likely to trust blogs/vlogs than younger age groups and were the most trusting of information from friends and family. Respondents ages 18-34 were more trusting of advertising than any other age group.
Read more in the full report here.
About the Data: Findings are based on interviews with 8,002 global connected customers from Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Spain, the UK, and the US) which collectively cover more than two-thirds of global advertising spend.