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 Times.com, ESPN.com, People.com 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.