Consumers Trust Recommendations From Known People, Not Ads [Nielsen Report]

Global Trust of Advertising Nielsen survey says recommendation from known people stands out as clear choice across age groups with maximum trust from Millennials

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“Millennials (age 21-34), who came of age with the Internet, have the highest levels of trust in online and mobile formats, followed closely by Generation X (age 35-49). But it’s not just online and mobile advertising formats where Millennials exceed the average. They also show the highest levels of trust in 18 of 19 advertising formats/channels, including TV, newspapers and magazines, and they’re also the most willing to take action on 16 of 19 formats,” according to a recent Global Trust in Advertising survey from Nielsen.

Key findings of the report

1. Recommendation from known people stands out as the clear choice across age groups with maximum trust from Millennials

2. Almost half of global respondents say they completely or somewhat trust online video ads

3. Trust levels for each type of advertising format are highest in developing markets

4. Asia-Pacific reports the highest levels of trust for three formats, including both ads on mobile devices and mobile text ads

5. Ads depicting real-life situations resonate most powerfully, selected by 44% of global respondents

6. Humor resonates more strongly in Western markets, Health-themed ads resonate strongly in Latin America and real-life situations work best in Asia-Pacific

Detailed findings from the report

Nielsen N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy. The survey was conducted between Feb. 23 to March 13, 2015, polling more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America.

Recommendation from known people stands out as the clear choice across age groups with maximum trust from Millennials. All kind of ads and brand sponsorship still hold importance but they figure after top five choices.

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This isn’t a surprising trend and we have already seen brands tying up with new age content creators or online influencers to reach out to today’s youth as they no more trust age-old advertising. While the trend picked up in 2014 with some amazingly designed influencer marketing campaigns, the first half of this year has already seen a bevy of interesting influencer-driven digital campaigns.

The most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. More than eight-in-10 global respondents (83%) say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. But trust isn’t confined only to those in our inner circle. In fact, two-thirds (66%) say they trust consumer opinions posted online—the third-most-trusted format.

Owned (brand-managed) online channels are also among the most trusted advertising formats. In fact, branded websites are the second-most trusted format, with 70% of global respondents saying they completely or somewhat trust these sites. In addition, more than half of respondents (56%) trust emails they signed up for.

However, the proliferation of online formats has not eroded trust in traditional (offline) paid channels. TV, newspapers and magazines remain trusted advertising formats. More than six-in-10 global respondents say they completely or somewhat trust TV ads (63%), up one percentage point from 2013. Slightly fewer trust ads in newspapers (60%) and magazines (58%), which fell one and two percentage points, respectively, from two years ago.

Trust in paid online and mobile ads has stayed relatively consistent since 2013. Almost half of global respondents say they completely or somewhat trust online video ads (48%, no change from 2013), ads served in search engine results (47%, down one percentage point) and ads on social networks (46%, down two percentage points).

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“Brands have been steadily increasing their digital ad spend as they get increasingly comfortable with digital advertising and measurement, but TV formats still deliver the highest unduplicated reach. Consider a mix of both offline and online channels for the best ROI,” said Randall Beard, president, Nielsen Expanded Verticals.

Along with trust same percentages of global respondents say they take action on opinions shared by friends and family at least some of the time (83% each). Similarly, self-reported trust and action are the same for branded websites (70% each). “Online and mobile formats make it exceptionally easy for consumers to live in the moment and take quick action on the advertisement. Often, consumers simply click a link and they’re directed to a place where they can receive more information or purchase the item,” Randall informed.

Trust levels for each type of advertising format are highest in developing markets. Latin America leads the way, demonstrating the highest levels of trust for 10 of 19 advertising formats, with many of these representing traditional formats. Asia-Pacific reports the highest levels of trust for three formats, including both ads on mobile devices and mobile text ads. Respondents in these regions were also more likely to say they take action on advertising formats at least some of the time.

Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience research shows highly successful ads score well on three dimensions: attention, conversion to long-term memory and emotional engagement. The key is to knowing how to connect their audience with messages that resonate most.

According to the findings ads depicting real-life situations resonate most powerfully, selected by 44% of global respondents. “Best-in-class ads share several characteristics: they’re relatable, follow an upbeat and simple storyline, use novel and striking imagery and make an emotional connection,” said Randall.

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Real life storytelling campaigns has been another trend this year especially on digital followed religiously by brands. Consumers primarily, millennials sell to real life storytelling than on the face advertising. Stories of real life heroes and their survival against all odds, tend to go viral on social networks. Studies have proven that inspiring content is the one that is most share-worthy.

For a digital campaign, the concept is a powerful one for brands that want to bring alive their brand philosophy, compared to just having a fitting celebrity be the face of the brand. Read Real Life Stories That Brought Alive The Brand Message.

However, there are notable regional differences in how messages resonate across the world. Humor resonates more strongly in Western markets. It tops the list of most appealing message types in Europe and North America, cited by 51% and 50% of respondents, respectively, yet doesn’t rate higher than third in any other region (respondents in Asia-Pacific and Latin America rate it fourth). Health-themed ads resonate strongly in Latin America— in fact, they top the list. Ads focusing on family also have strong appeal in Latin America as well as Africa/Middle East.

Surprisingly, humor the quickest way to make an impression has worked well for a lot of Indian brands. Employing humour to drive home the brand message, especially brands that are in boring industries like BFSI. This year, television commercials and by extension their digital films have taken the humorous route to win over their audiences.

Some messages resonate well across every generation. Ads depicting real-life situations are a good example—they appeal to roughly four-in-10 respondents in every age group. While humor resonates well across the generations, the preferred style of humor can differ dramatically. Older consumers prefer clever, light-hearted humor, while younger consumers prefer offbeat, sarcastic and slapstick humor. Health- and value-oriented ads are also rated highly by all five generations.

“Regardless of the delivery format, the most successful ads are those that speak to the sentiment of the audience.”