April 17, 2012, 11:22 AM

Consumers increasingly trust online reviews

But a Nielsen study suggests mobile text ads have little credibility.

Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Lead Photo

Online reviews from customers win the trust of 70% of global consumers in the new Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey. That’s a 15%  increase from four years ago, Nielsen says.

Nielsen based its finding on surveys conducted in August and September of 28,000 consumers in 56 countries aimed at gauging consumer perception of 19 advertising formats. Overall, most of those consumers, 92%, say they trust advertisements passed along or recommended by relatives and friends; that was the highest score among all the formats. 

Text ads on mobile phones are the least trusted globally, with 29% of respondents reporting confidence in such ads. Consumers in the Middle East and Africa trust mobile ads more than consumers in other regions, with 40% trusting text ads on mobile phones and 44% saying they trust mobile display ads.

Just under half of all global respondents say they trust television, magazine and newspaper ads, a percentage that has been declining since 2009. Yet spending on those types of traditional advertising increased 7% between 2010 and 2011, the report says. Internet ad spending increased 24% during the same, according to Nielsen. In 2012, eMarketer forecasts mobile ad spending will grow 47%.

“Although television advertising will remain a primary way marketers connect with audiences due to its unmatched reach compared to other media, consumers around the world continue to see recommendations from friends and online consumer opinions as by far the most credible,” says Randall Beard, Nielson’s global head of advertiser solutions. “As a result, successful brand advertisers will seek ways to better connect with consumers and leverage their goodwill in the form of consumer feedback and experiences.”

The survey also found that half of global respondents trust e-mail marketing message for which they had signed up.  

The survey added a new category of advertising in 2011, sponsored ads on social networks, which 36% of global respondents say they trust. In another recent Nielsen survey of 79 Facebook ad campaigns, the marketing research firm found that social ads on average had a 55% better rate of recall than non-social ads.

The survey also found that:

  • 67% of Brazilian respondents say they trust paid search ads, the highest level for that format of all the countries surveyed. Globally, 40% of respondents trust paid search ads.
  • Europeans respondents accounted for the lowest levels of trust among all ad formats save for consumer opinions posted online, which win the trust of 64% of European respondents.

The theme of this year’s Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 is “Connecting with the 21st Century Consumer.” Among the sessions is “Bonus: Following the leaders: What the Internet Retailer Top 500 do well in e-mail marketing” by Loren McDonald, vice president, industry relations, Silverpop.

Comments | 1 Response

  • Great article - I agree that trust is everything in business now moreso than ever. Even though trust is increasing online, there are still steps one can make to increse trust even more. We've experimented a lot in the last few years to increase our trust and the 3 most impactful additions we've made are: 1. Adding TrustE.com (TM): Increased our sales by 6%. TrustE proves that you protect the privacy of information your customers share with you. 2. Adding Verisign.com: Increased our sales by 3%. Verisign provves that you have an SSL site and your visitors information is securre when sharing delicate data such as SS#, credit card info, etc. 3. Adding TestimonialShield.com: Increased our sales by 9%. Testimonial Shield third party verifies your customer reviews and testimonials so your site visitors don’t have to wonder “are these reviews real...” Total increase in conversion/sales = 18%! Total investment: less than $3,000 Do whatever you can to increase your trust and you will increase your bottom line.

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