Report: Earned media most trusted form of advertising

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Ninety-two percent of consumers trust earned media, including word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above other forms of advertising, Nielsen revealed in its “Global Trust in Advertising Survey.”

Despite these findings, the survey also found the majority of advertising dollars are spent on traditional and paid media.

“Although television advertising will remain a primary way marketers connect with audiences… consumers around the world continue to see recommendations from friends and online consumer opinions as by far the most credible,” said Randall Beard, global head, advertiser solutions at Nielsen, in the report. “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 polled more than 28,000 online consumers in 56 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Middle East for the survey. The surveyed period was conducted in 2011 between Aug. 31 and Sept. 16. 

Specifically, 70% of consumers surveyed indicated they trusted online consumer reviews, while 50% of consumers found emails they consented to receive were credible.

Nielsen also found 58% of respondents trust owned media, such as messages on company websites. 

Confidence in paid television, magazine and newspaper ads has declined precipitously since 2009. While 47% of consumers surveyed said they trusted these three channels, over the last three years, trust in paid television decreased 24%, trust in magazines decreased 20% and trust in newspaper ads decreased 25%. 

Faith in search engine results increased over the last five years. Forty percent of global respondents said they believed such ads, an increase from 34% in 2007. Forty-two percent of respondents also found the ads relevant.

“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,” stated Beard in the report.

There is also growing consumer confidence in ads on social media and mobile channels. Thirty-six percent of global respondents deemed ads on social networking sites credible and relevant. Twenty-nine percent of consumers said they trusted SMS ads, a 61% increase since 2007.  

“Nielsen's survey shows that there is still much potential for marketers looking to reach the right audience through advertiser-driven messages,” Beard said in the report.

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