Editorial Content most trusted form of advertising: Nielsen Survey

Recommendations by personal acquaintances is the most trusted form of advertising by Indian respondents garnering 93 percent votes, according to the latest quarterly Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey of over 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 countries. Editorial content such as newspaper articles and Brand websites follow with 87 and 78 percent votes respectively.

Though Consumer opinions posted online is gaining in trust the world over, in India the traditional forms of advertising are still ahead, like ads in newspapers and TV (77 & 76 percent respectively). 74 percent Indian respondents trust Consumer opinion posted online making it the sixth most trusted form of advertising in India. Ads in magazines are trusted by 73 percent Indian respondents.

“Personal recommendation and Editorial content is seen as unbiased information about a product or service and plays a major role in consumer decision making process. The fact that Brand websites – the most trusted form of advertiser-led advertising – follows on their heels in terms of trust should be quite encouraging for advertisers,” said Vatsala Pant, Associate Director, Consumer Research, The Nielsen Company.

The Trust in Advertising element of the survey was first conducted in April 2007 and the two years since then reveals that ‘brand sponsorship’ and ‘ads before movies’ have seen the greatest increase in levels of trust, both experiencing a 20 percentage points’ increase. Brand sponsorship increased from 52 percent in April 2007 to 72 percent in April 2009, whereas ads before movies increased from 41 to 61 percent.

Text ads on mobile phones, though the least trusted form of advertising by Indian respondents surveyed, saw the second highest increase in terms of rising trust, increasing from 24 percent in April 2007 to 43 percent in April 2009.

Brand websites, globally the most trusted form of advertiser-led advertising, hold the greatest sway in China (82 percent). Following China are Pakistan (81 percent) and Vietnam (80 percent). However, brand websites tend to be trusted least amongst Swedish (40 percent) and Israeli (45 percent) Internet consumers. India ranks sixth amongst the countries surveyed with 78 percent of Indian Internet consumers trusting brand websites.

When it comes to trusting brand sponsorships, Latin American countries lead the way with 81 percent of both Colombian and Venezuelan Internet consumers and 79 percent of Brazilians trusting this form of advertising. In contrast, sponsorships hold the least sway amongst Swedish (33 percent), Latvian (36 percent) and Finnish online consumers (38 percent). In comparison, 72 percent of Indian Internet consumers trust brand sponsorships, placing India twelfth out of the 50 countries surveyed.

Consumer opinions posted online tend to be trusted most by Vietnamese Internet consumers (81 percent) and their Italian (80 percent), Chinese and French (both 77 percent) counterparts. However, online opinions tend to be trusted the least in Argentina (46 percent) and Finland (50 percent). In comparison, 74 percent of Indian Internet consumers trust this form of advertising, meaning India ranks eighth out of the 50 countries represented in the survey for trusting consumer opinions online.

“It shows that despite the authority of word of mouth when it comes to decision-making advertisers still have a major say in the process. Advertisers can take a clue from the regional differences existing in consumer trust of different media forms to position their ads in different countries. The website and the process of monitoring feedback through it, is a golden opportunity for advertisers to shape the tone and content of consumer opinion before it reaches the digital masses and also make their messaging more realistic based on consumer feedback.,” continued Pant.

Although brand websites score highly amongst Internet consumers, the survey shows that other forms of digital advertising are trusted less than ads appearing in traditional media such as TV, billboards, radio, magazines, and newspapers. Text ads on mobile phones (43%), online banner ads (46%), online video ads (50%) and ads in search engine results (50%) are the forms of advertising least likely to elicit a degree of trust.

“The online advertising industry is yet to make a significant impact in the advertising space to attract advertising revenues that reflect the increasing Internet population and the sheer amount of time spent on it. There is still a long way to go before advertising revenues shift from traditional forms of media to the Internet. Online display advertising needs to be made more appealing to the consumers so that it gains greater trust from them,” said Pant.

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