Word-of-mouth is new key to ef­fec­tive ads

70% of in­ter­net users click with brand web­sites

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING - STAFF RE­PORTER

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-

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