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In India Recommendations and Online Consumer Reviews Most Trusted form of Advertising

4 minute read | April 2012


Recommendations from friends and family retains the number one spot as the most trusted form of advertising in India, according to the latest study from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.

While this category tops the survey with 91 percent*, Online Consumer Reviews jumps four places with 77 percent, to become the second-most trusted form of advertising, beating even brand websites and traditional forms like television and newspapers ads.

“The study reveals that manufacturers and advertisers need to think out-of-the-box to come up with new ways to increase brand visibility online and use the top two categories – word-of-mouth and online consumer reviews to their advantage,” says Farshad Family, MD-Media, Nielsen India.

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 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent respectively since 2009.

In India, there has been a substantial decline in forms of advertising like Ads on TV, where the figure has dropped from 76 percent in 2009 to 55 percent in 2011. Similarly, ads in magazines witnessed a 14 percent drop to 59 percent and newspaper ads saw a 17 percent fall to 60 percent. In 2009, the category of ads before movies had seen a significant gain in consumer trust; however, in the latest survey, it dipped 12 percent; only 49 percent of respondents trust this form of advertising.

Brand websites and editorial content such as newspaper articles maintain their place in the top five with 75 percent each. But when it comes to brand sponsorships and outdoor advertising including billboards, only 55 percent said they found them credible. Trust in radio advertisements also took a knock, witnessing an 18 percent drop to 48 percent vis-à-vis the 2009 figure.  

Trust in Online Ads

Thirty-six percent of global online consumers report trust in online video ads and 40 percent say they believe ads viewed in search engine results. Sponsored ads on social networking sites are deemed credible only by 36 percent of global respondents. However, in India, the numbers are higher with 48 percent online consumers trusting online video ads and 52 percent believing ads viewed in search engine results. Sponsored ads on social networking sites fare better with 54 percent of respondents trusting this form of advertising.

“With ads on social networks fast catching up with traditional forms of advertising like TV, Newspapers and magazines, advertisers would need to re-orient themselves to capitalize on the growing number of online consumers and the proliferation of ecommerce,” observes Family.

Mobile ads: A non-starter?

Clocking just 43 percent, text ads on mobile phones, continue to be the least trusted form of advertising by Indian respondents. The performance is marginally better when it comes to display ads on mobile devices, which saw 47 percent trusting this form of advertising.   

Ad Relevance

When considering ad relevance, once again, word-of-mouth from acquaintances and online consumer reviews top the list with 92 percent and 82 percent respectively. Editorial content like newspaper articles which 87 percent of respondents trusted as a form of advertising in 2009, saw a decline with just 71 percent believing in its credibility.

In this category too, display and text ads on mobile devices fared the poorest with just over 50 percent trusting them. Even globally, these two categories showed disappointing results. Nielsen’s survey shows that there is huge potential for marketers in this space.

(* ‘Trust Completely’ and ‘Trust Somewhat’ have been clubbed to arrive at this figure.) 

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey was conducted between August 31 and September 16, 2011 and polled more than 28,000 online consumers in 56 countries throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This 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 percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey was established in 2005.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit