Nielsen: Consumers Trust WOM Over Other Messaging

The recommendations people make to their friends and family carry more weight than the messages companies put out on their own behalf. 

According to Nielsen’s 2013 “Global Survey of Trust in Advertising” (which surveyed more than 29,000 Internet users in 58 countries about 19 forms of paid, earned and owned media), 84% of consumers worldwide say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from their trusted friends and families -- an increase of 6% over the past six years.

Meanwhile, owned advertising -- in the form of content and messaging on brand-operated Web sites -- is the second most-trusted form of advertising -- trusted by 69% of survey respondents, up 9% since 2007. Coming in third were online customer views and opinions, trusted by 68% of worldwide consumers (up 7% from 2007).



Given that recommendations from friends and family hold the highest trust value (a status held since the inaugural Trust in Advertising study from 2007), marketers would be wise to incentivize customers to provide positive feedback and/or by referring friends to the company, according to a Nielsen representative. The high regard consumers have for branded Web sites is reflective of consumers’ interest in more (and more detailed) information. Indeed, having a Web site adds a level of “legitimacy” to a brand, she says. 

Although it did not make the top three trusted forms of advertising, paid media -- particularly television advertising -- continued to remain strong. Sixty-two percent of consumers trusted television advertising (up from 56% in 2007), while 60% trusted magazine advertising (up 4% since 2007). Newspaper advertising was the only format to decline over the past six years, to 61% from 63%. 

In keeping with their growing influence, online and mobile advertising also saw sharp upticks in consumer trust. More than half (56%) of consumers said they trusted e-mail messaging (up 7% from 2007), while 48% trusted paid-search ads, online video and social network advertising. Trust in banner advertising jumped 16% since 2007 (to 42% in 2013). Forty-five percent of respondents trusted mobile display advertising, while 37% trusted mobile text advertising.

Not surprisingly, the trust levels roughly correlated with action levels. Recommendations from friends and family and online consumer opinions generated the highest levels of action (84% and 70%, respectively), followed by TV ads (68%), branded websites (67%), newspaper advertising (65%) and consumer-consented emails (65%). 

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