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When it comes to trust, personal recommendations and consumer opinions posted online are most valued by consumers worldwide.
So says the latest twice-yearly Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, which gauged opinions from 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 countries.
In fact, 90 percent of the respondents said they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70 percent said they trusted consumer opinions posted online.
There’s good news for advertisers, though. Brand Web sites were also trusted by 70 percent of those surveyed, making them as trusted as consumer opinions posted online.
“The explosion in consumer-generated media over the last couple of years -- we are now tracking over 100 million CGM sources -- 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,” said Jonathan Carson, president of online, international at The Nielsen Company.
He added: “However, 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.”
Brand sponsorships have enjoyed the greatest surge in consumer trust since that element was added to the survey two years ago, surging 15 points to its current level of 64 percent.
Ads shown before movies also scored well, rising 14 points to 52 percent in trustworthiness in the latest survey.
Regional differences point the way toward how ads might be best targeted.
For example, consumer opinions posted online were trusted most by Vietnamese and Italian Internet consumers (both about 80 percent) and their French counterparts (77 percent). Online opinions were trusted least in Argentina (46 percent) and Finland (50 percent).
In terms of brand sponsorships, Latin-American countries Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil were the most trusting (all around 80 percent), while these types of efforts held the least sway among Swedes (33 percent), Latvians (36 percent) and Finns (38 percent).
Brand Web sites were most trusted in China (82 percent), Pakistan (81 percent) and Vietnam (80 percent), and least in Sweden (40 percent) and Israel (45 percent).
“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,” Carson said.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, some types of digital ads scored poorly in terms of consumer trust, such as text messages on mobile phones (24 percent), online banners (33 percent), video ads (37 percent) and ads in search-engine results (41 percent).
Carson concluded: “The industry has yet to attract advertising revenue consummate with the current levels of online media consumption. The study shows there is still work to be done to shift advertising revenue from traditional forms of media to the Internet. The ability to turn this around rests on overhauling the way display advertising is served online so that it becomes a more effective medium for brand advertisers and a more trusted form of advertising in the mind of the consumer.”
Adweek is a unit of The Nielsen Company.