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Personal recommendations and opt-in emails ‘most trusted forms of advertising in the UK’

Personal recommendations and opt-in emails ‘most trusted forms of advertising in the UK’
Wednesday November 20 2013

Eighty-one percent of British consumers say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family – the highest level of trust for any form of advertising – according to a new study from Nielsen.

Emails that consumers sign up to receive are the second most-trusted form of advertising.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of Britons trust these emails – up five percentage points on 2007 – and noticeably more than those across Europe (43%) and consumers globally (56%). Opt-in emails rank only 11th globally.

Third-party endorsements dominate most trusted forms of advertising

Nielsen’s Global Survey of Trust in Advertising polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries to measure consumer sentiment on 19 formats of “earned”1, “owned”2 and “paid”3 advertising.

After opt-in emails, the next most-trusted form of advertising is editorial content (62%) - such as newspaper articles - followed by consumer opinions posted online (61%). Thus, three of the four most trusted forms of advertising are endorsements by a third party, i.e. earned media.

However, of the 13 formats covered in both the 2007 and 2013 surveys, consumer opinion online is the only one to experience a decrease in trust among Britons – down four percentage points.

“When it comes to advertising, third party endorsements – a personal recommendation or other people’s opinions posted online – and welcomed emails have the strongest influence on consumers’ decision-making,” says James Oates, UK managing director of media at Nielsen. “This finding reinforces how vital it is for companies to focus on the quality of their products and customer service in order to drive adoption and attract positive proponents willing to market on their behalf.”

Trust in traditional advertising still strong
Nielsen’s information shows that ads on TV (60%), radio (57%) and in newspapers (56%) are the most trusted forms of paid advertising. Advertising in cinemas (53%) increased 11 percentage points in the last six years – the joint largest increase of the 13 formats covered in both the 2013 and 2007
Increased trust in online and mobile ads

More than half (56%) of UK respondents say they trust company websites – another form of owned advertising, along with emails that consumers sign up to receive. Trust in company websites increased four percentage points on 2007.

“UK marketers should be encouraged to see the increased trust in owned advertising, such as websites and emails,” says Oates. “It emphasises how important it is for advertisers, particularly in a social media world, to manage their brand messages and to deliver a user experience that they control that resonates with their target audiences – a crucial component if they are to be effective.”

Four in ten (39%) people trust ads in search engine results, while around one third trust video ads, online banner ads and ads on social networks. Along with advertising in cinemas, online banners have experienced the joint largest increase in trust among Britons since 2007 – up 11 percentage points (to 34%).

Mobile ads (30%) and text ads (25%) are the least credible of the 19 formats covered in the UK. Globally, mobile ads are trusted by 45 percent and text ads by 37 percent. However, of the 13 formats covered in both surveys, mobile text ads have seen the third highest increase in trust in the UK, up 10 percentage points.

“Increases in the trust of paid online and mobile advertising justify the growing importance and confidence marketers have in these formats,” says Oates. “However, the results show that UK advertisers still have work to do to reach the levels of trust that consumers have in these formats around the world. Here, though, there is still the potential that online and mobile ads are seen as more intrusive – particularly given the increasingly personal relationship consumers have with their tablets and smartphones.”

Ad formats most conducive to taking action

As well as being the most trusted forms of advertising, personal recommendations and emails prompt the highest levels of action; 69 percent and 61 percent of UK respondents, respectively, take some form of action as a result of seeing these formats.

However, TV advertising – ranking fifth for trust – is the third most conducive to taking action (54%). This is followed by consumer opinions online (49%) and newspaper ads (46%) – the latter being the fifth most conducive to taking action, but the seventh most trusted.

Three in ten (30%) UK respondents say they take action as a result of seeing ads on social networks – noticeably fewer than people globally (54%) and Europeans (41%).