Survey: Paid Search Found To Be As “Trusted” As TV Product Placement Ads Are

As part of its far reaching report, “The State of the Media, US Digital Consumer Report,” Nielsen polled US consumers about their trust in advertising by media channel. The responses yield a kind of hierarchy of advertising trust, which varies slightly by gender.

Most trusted by both males and females were ads that appear on “branded websites.” The term is not defined in the report. However I assume this includes sites such as NY,, and so on. In that case, one could infer that the sites’ brands conferred some halo of credibility on the ads that appear on them.

Least trusted in the survey were ads that appear in mobile text messages. In the middle were paid search ads, which were more trusted than online video ads or ads on social networks. Below is the graphic illustrating these findings.

One of the striking results of this survey is the finding that paid search ads are only trusted as much as TV product placement ads. That’s completely counter-intuitive to me. However paid search is the most trusted of all the ad types appearing in digital channels (except branded sites).

It’s important to recognize that consumer trust in this context does not equal effectiveness or consumer response. Paid search and mobile advertising, which ranked quite low, can be highly effective. Indeed, mobile display can deliver brand metrics that are as good or better than TV and certainly outperform online display.

I suspect what this survey actually measures is consumer familiarity with the particular media channel or platform. In most cases the “brand” in “branded websites” is going to be an offline brand that consumers feel some affinity for already. And TV is simply more familiar and well established than online video or ads on social networks.

It’s not clear whether privacy concerns enter into the consumer trust equation or create distrust of particular media advertising categories in any way.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Facebook: Advertising | Legal: Privacy | Social Media Marketing | Statistics: General | Statistics: Online Behavior | Statistics: Popularity & Usage


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

Marketing Day:

Get the top marketing stories daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • Andrew Lin

    I think branded sites are simply the official sites of a brand and not the advertising that appears on them.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Marketing Land on Twitter @marketingland Like Marketing Land on Facebook Follow Marketing Land on Google+ Subscribe to Our Feed! Join our LinkedIn Group Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Marketing News!

Marketing Day is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!