Recommendations from personal acquaintances or opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising, according to the latest Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey of over 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 countries.
Ninety percent or consumers surveyed noted that they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70 percent trusted consumer opinions posted online.
"The explosion in Consumer Generated Media over the last couple of years means consumers' reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don't, has increased significantly," says Jonathan Carson, President of Online, International, for the Nielsen Company."
However, in this new age of consumer control, advertisers will be encouraged by the fact that brand websites are trusted at that same 70 percent level as online consumer opinions.
Carson adds, "We see that all forms of advertiser-led advertising, except ads in newspapers, have also experienced increases in levels of trust and it's possible that the CGM revolution has forced advertisers to use a more realistic form of messaging that is grounded in the experience of consumers rather than the lofty ideals of the advertisers."
In the two years the biannual study has been conducted, brand sponsorship has seen the greatest increase in levels of trust from 49 percent of Internet consumers in April 2007 to 64 percent in April 2009. Regionally, Latin American countries lead the way with 81 percent of both Colombian and Venezuelan Internet consumers and 79 percent of Brazilians trusting brand sponsorships. 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 United States Internet consumers trust brand sponsorships, placing the United States 12th out of the 50 countries represented in the survey.
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. In the US, 62 percent of Internet consumers said they trusted brand sponsorships, placing the United States 21st out of the 50 countries surveyed.
"The regional differences provide a clear guide to advertisers as to how they should focus their ad strategy in different countries. It also shows that, despite the authority of word of mouth when it comes to consumer decision-making, advertisers still have a major say in the process. This is backed up by past Nielsen studies which showed that the majority of people posting comments online went to the advertiser website or emailed feedback to the company before they posted. The website, and 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," said Carson.
For more regional data, download the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey press release.