Global online consumers place the most amount of trust in earned media, and the least in ads served on mobile phones, finds Nielsen [download page] in an April 2012 report. An impressive 92% of consumers surveyed around the world said they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, an 18% increase from 2007. Consumer opinions posted online (70%) was next-most trusted, outpacing other formats such as editorial content within newspaper articles, and branded websites (both at 58%). Text ads on mobile phones are trusted by just 29% of consumers.
This finding contrasts with April 2012 survey results from Ipsos, which found that while consumers worldwide may turn to their friends for advice on purchases, only 38% will trust a product or a service more because friends recommended it.
Traditional Media Takes a Fall
Data from Nielsen’s “Global Trust in Advertising 2012” indicates that consumer trust in traditional paid advertising messages has taken a significant drop. While close to half say they trust TV (47%), magazine (47%), and newspaper ads (46%), confidence in these ads has dropped by 24%, 20%, and 25%, respectively from 2009 to 2011, when the latest survey was conducted.
Despite this fall in trust, traditional media ads, particularly on TV, appear to have their intended effect. According to April 2012 survey results from ExactTarget, TV ads influence a larger proportion of online consumers to purchase a product or service than a variety of other advertising media. 53% of respondents said a TV ad had influenced them to purchase a product or service in the past 12 months, putting TV ads far ahead of newspaper ads (32%) and magazine ads (30%). In fact, three times more respondents said they had been influenced by a TV ad than by a banner or other ad on a website (53% vs. 18%).
Trust in Online Ads Low, But Growing
The Nielsen study finds that trust in most online ads is relatively lower than on traditional media, save for ads found on branded websites, which are trusted by 58% of consumers. For example, only 40% trust ads served in search engine results, while just 36% trust online video ads, or ads on social networks. These findings are similar to Nielsen and NM Incite survey results released in February 2012, which found more trust in branded website ads than any other form of online advertising.
Despite low rates of trust in online banner ads (33%), this represents a 27% increase since 2007. Similarly, while the level of trust placed in mobile phone advertising is still low, at 29%, this is an increase of 61% since 2007, and 21% since 2009.
Attitudes Towards Relevance Mirror Trust
The Nielsen survey also asked respondents to identify which advertising and brand messaging platforms are the most relevant to them when searching for information about the products, finding that the relevancy results often mirrored the trust responses. Recommendations from friends and family again topped the list, at 90% of respondents, followed by consumer opinions posted online (75%), branded websites (59%), and editorial content such as newspaper articles (55%). The relevance of paid traditional media platforms ranged from about 40-50%, while many online platforms scored lower, save for ads served in search engine results (42%).
- Latin American consumers had the highest levels of trust across 17 of the 19 advertising methods identified, when compared to other regions.
- Trust in mobile phone ads was highest in the Middle East and Africa, with 40% indicating trust in text ads on mobile phones. These consumers also placed more trust in billboard and outdoor advertising than the global average (59% vs. 47%).
- Consumers in Asia Pacific reported a higher level of trust in all formats surveyed when compared to the global average. They also had the highest level of trust in earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family (94%) and consumer opinions posted online (76%).
- North Americans and Europeans appear to be the most skeptical consumers, with European respondents reporting the lowest levels of trust in all but 1 format (consumer opinions posted online – 64%).
About the Data: The Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey was conducted in August/ September 2011 and polled more than 28,000 consumers in 56 countries throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion.