Consumers Trust Recommendations From Friends Online, Opinions From Strangers

According to the latest Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey of over 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 countries, recommendations from personal acquaintances or opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising worldwide. 90% of consumers surveyed said that they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trusted consumer opinions posted online.

However, in this new age of consumer control, 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%) as consumer opinions posted online

Forms of Advertising in Which Consumers Trust "Somewhat" or "Completely" (April, 2009)


Percent of Respondents Trusting

Recommendations from people known


Consumer opinions posted online


Brand websites


Editorial content (e.g. newspaper article)


Brand sponsorships








Billboards / outdoor advertising




Emails signed up for


Ads before movies


Search engine results ads


Online video ads


Online banner ads


Text ads on mobile phones


Source: Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, April 2009 

Jonathan Carson, President of Online, International, for the Nielsen Company, said "The explosion in Consumer Generated Media... means consumers' reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process... has increased significantly."

Globally, consumer opinions posted online tend to be trusted most by:

  • Vietnamese Internet consumers (81%)
  • Italians (80%)
  • Chinese and French (both 77%)

Online opinions tend to be trusted the least:

  • in Argentina (46%)
  • Finland (50%)

72% of U.S. Internet consumers trust Online opinions, meaning the U.S. ranks 12 out of the 50 countries represented in the survey for trusting consumer opinions online.  

When it comes to brand sponsorship trust:

  • Latin American countries lead the way with 81% of both Colombian and Venezuelan Internet consumers
  • 79% of Brazilians

Online brand sponsorships hold the least sway among:

  • Swedish (33%)
  • Latvian (36%)
  • Finnish (38%)

62% of U.S. Internet consumers trust brand sponsorships, placing the U.S. 21 out of the 50 countries surveyed.  

Brand websites, globally the most trusted form of advertiser-led advertising, hold the greatest sway:

  • in China (82%)
  • Pakistan (81%)
  • Vietnam (80%)

Brand websites tend to be trusted least among Internet consumers in:

  • Sweden (40%)
  • Israel (45%)

The U.S. ranks 22 among the countries surveyed with 70% of U.S. 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," concludes Carson

For more information about this study, please visit Nielsen here.



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