Word-of-mouth is new key to effective ads
70% of internet users click with brand websites
RECOMMENDATIONS by personal acquaintances and opinions posted online are the most trusted forms of advertising globally, according to the latest twice-yearly Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey of more than 25 000 internet consumers from 50 countries.
The Nielsen survey, the largest of its kind, shows that nine in 10 internet users worldwide trust recommendations from people they know, while seven in every 10 trust consumer opinions posted online.
Advertisers will be encouraged by the fact that brand websites – the most trusted form of advertiser-led advertising – are trusted by as many people (70 percent) as consumer opinions posted online.
“The explosion in consumergenerated media (CGM) over the past 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 of Nielsen.
“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.”
The “trust in advertising” element of the survey was first conducted in April 2007 and since then brand sponsorship has seen the greatest increase in levels of trust, from 49 percent to 64 percent.
Brand sponsorships are closely followed by ads before movies, up from 38 percent to 52 percent, and personal recommendations, up from 78 percent to 90 percent.
Consumer opinions posted online tend to be trusted by 71 percent of South African internet users, and 78 percent of South Africans trust brand sponsorships.
Brand websites, globally the most trusted form of advertiserled 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 among Swedish (40 percent) and Israeli (45 percent) internet consumers. South Africa ranks seventh among the countries surveyed, with 78 percent of internet consumers trusting brand websites.
“The regional differences provide a clear guide to advertisers as to how they should focus their ad strategy in different countries,” says Carson.
“(The survey) 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 e-mailed 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.”
Although brand websites score highly among internet consumers, the survey shows that other forms of digital advertising are trusted less than ads appearing in traditional media such as TV billboards, radio, magazines and newspapers – despite the latter being the only form of advertising to experience a drop in levels of trust since the 2007 survey.
SMS ads (24 percent), online banner ads (33 percent), online video ads (37 percent) and ads in search engine results (41 percent) are the forms of advertising least likely to elicit a degree of trust.
“Despite the huge increase in the size of the world’s internet population and the sheer amount of time being spent online, the industry has yet to attract advertising revenue consummate with the current levels of online media consumption,” says Carson.
“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 advertis-