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Nielsen: Consumers Trust Earned and Traditional Advertising Over Digital, Mobile

Published on April 10, 2012

Ninety-two percent  of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising—an increase of 18% since 2007, according to a new study from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising with 70% of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust this platform, an increase of 15% in four years.

Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey of more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries shows that while nearly half (47%) of consumers around the world say they trust paid television, magazine and newspaper ads, confidence declined by 24%, 20% and 25% respectively since 2009. Still, the majority of advertising dollars are spent on traditional or paid media, such as television. In 2011, overall global ad spend saw a seven% increase over 2010, according to Nielsen’s most recent Global AdView Pulse. This growth in spend was driven by a nearly 10% increase in television advertising, with countries, including the U.S. and China, attracting more advertising dollars versus the year prior.

“While brand marketers increasingly seek to deploy more effective advertising strategies, Nielsen’s survey shows that the continued proliferation of media messages may be impacting how well they resonate with their intended audiences on various platforms,” said Randall Beard, global head, Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen. “Although television advertising will remain a primary way marketers connect with audiences due to its unmatched reach compared to other media, consumers around the world continue to see recommendations from friends and online consumer opinions as by far the most credible. As a result, successful brand advertisers will seek ways to better connect with consumers and leverage their goodwill in the form of consumer feedback and experiences.”

Nielsen’s survey shows that 58% of global online consumers trust “owned media,” such as messages on company websites, and 50% find content in emails they consented to receive to be credible.

Forty percent  of global respondents find product placements in TV programs to be credible, while 42% trust radio ads and 41% trust pre-movie cinema messages.

Trust in Online Ads

Thirty-six percent of global online consumers report trust in online video ads, and 33% believe messages in online banner ads, up from 26% in 2007. Ads viewed in search engine results are trusted by 40% of global respondents in Nielsen’s survey, up from 34% in 2007. Sponsored ads on social networking sites are deemed credible by 36% of global respondents.

“The growth in trust for online search and display ads over the past four years should give marketers increased confidence in putting more of their ad dollars into this medium,” said Beard. “Many companies are already increasing their paid advertising activity on social networking sites, in part due to the high level of trust consumers place in friends’ recommendations and online opinions. Brands should be watching this emerging ad channel closely as it continues to grow.”

Trust in Mobile Ads
According to Nielsen’s survey, one-third of global respondents trust video or banner display ads on mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. Approximately one-third (29%) of global online consumers said they trust mobile phone text ads, an increase of 21% since 2009 and 61% since 2007.

Ad Relevance
When considering ad relevance, 50% of global online consumers find TV ads to be personally relevant when they are looking for information on products they want or need, particularly among consumers in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, where 65% find TV ads to be highly pertinent to their needs. By contrast, 30% of European respondents consider TV ads to be relevant.

One-third (33%) of global respondents find online banners ads to be relevant, compared to ads on social networks (36%) and online video ads (36%). Forty two% of global consumers find ads in search engine results relevant.

“The high cost of advertising in today’s fragmented media world forces marketers to strive for the most effective and efficient ads,” said Beard. “In order to boost advertising ROI, marketers need to make sure an ad’s content and message is relevant to the consumer who sees it. While we expect to see high relevance levels in ads where the consumer is actively seeking information, such as on a brand’s own website or solicited emails, Nielsen’s survey shows that there is still much potential for marketers looking to reach the right audience through advertiser-driven messages.”