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Consumer trust in traditional advertising declines in UK, while a recommendation from friends remains most credible

Trust in editorial content and opt-in emails decline most over last two years,
but mobile and social ads gain trust

London, 29 Sept 2015.  Most forms of advertising and communication – such as TV ads, company websites, and promotional emails – have all seen a decline in trust among UK consumers over the last two years, according to Nielsen’s latest biennial Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, which polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries.

In the UK, the format hit by the biggest decline in trust was editorial content (down 8% points to 54%) followed by emails that consumers sign up for (down 7% to 56%) and newspaper and radio ads (both down 6%).

Of the 19 ad formats covered in the report, only the three least trusted – mobile ads, text ads on mobiles and ads on social networks – have increased in trust over the last two years. Thirteen experienced a decline, while three were unchanged.

So, what can brands do?

“There isn’t one simple rule for maximizing advertising effectiveness in a saturated market like the UK, but understanding how consumers feel about the ads they’re served on various media platforms is a good starting point,” explains Nielsen’s EVP of marketing effectiveness for Europe, Terrie Brennan.

“While advertisers have started to follow consumers online, about a third of online advertising campaigns don’t work – they don’t generate awareness or drive any lift in purchase intent. More than ever, consumers are in control of how they consume content and interact with brands, so understanding ad resonance across screens is now the only way to successfully drive memorability and brand lift.”

Personal recommendations most influential

Personal recommendation (trusted to some degree by 81% of UK respondents) remains the most trusted form of advertising or communication, with the credibility gap widening between it and other formats. It now stands alone as the only format trusted by more than 60% of UK respondents – an accolade shared by some five formats just two years ago.

‘Consumer opinions online’ (58%) is now the second most trusted format (up from fourth two years ago) and is followed by ‘emails signed up for’ and TV ads (both 56%).

Online video ads and online banner ads have a lower trust rating than traditional ad formats, but their credibility has held up over the last two years, while trust in TV ads has fallen.

Brennan again: “Brands have generally increased their digital ad spend as they’ve become more comfortable with digital advertising and measurement, but TV formats still deliver the highest unduplicated reach, up to 85-90%. Digital ads can offer considerable benefits – such as precision-focused campaigns, in-flight adjustments and more creative options – but moving from TV to an all-display digital plan is a bold move for any marketer. A mix of both offline and online channels usually offers the best ROI.”

Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising survey reveals that Britons are generally less trusting of all types of advertising compared to the global average, but generally more trusting than Europeans as a whole.

Ad formats most conducive to taking action

Personal recommendation is the format most likely to lead to some form of action being taken by consumers (cited by 71% of respondents), followed by opted-in emails (62%) and TV ads (53%).

Generally, people are more likely to trust an ad format than take action as a result of seeing it. However, three ad formats buck this trend. Opted-in emails are more likely to engender action than trust (62% take action vs. 56% trust), as are ads in search engine results (43% vs 38%) and mobile text ads (28% vs. 27%).

“The formats where action exceeds trust by the greatest margin share a common attribute: easy access to the product or service,” says Brennan. “You like it, you buy it. Online and mobile formats make it exceptionally easy for consumers to live in the moment and take quick action on the ad. Often, consumers simply click a link and they’re directed to a place where they can receive more information or purchase the item.”


About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising was conducted between 23 Feb and 13 March 2015, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behaviour of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

About Nielsen

Nielsen N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement, as well as analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population.