Nielsen Study Reveals Trust & Relevance Growing in Online Advertising

How does online advertising stack up to traditional advertising in terms of consumer trust and relevance? According to a recent survey from Nielsen, consumers still consider TV, magazine and newspaper to be more trustworthy and personally relevant, but online advertising is quickly closing the gap.

It comes as no surprise that consumers are most likely to trust earned media like word of mouth recommendations – in fact 92% of consumers say they trust these more than any form of media. The number of consumers who say they trust traditional advertising like TV, magazine and newspaper ads dropped by over 20% since 2009, while the percentage of consumers who trust online methods has increased.

58% of consumers say they trust owned media such as the information they find on a company’s website, while 50% say they trust email content. On the advertising side, 40% say they trust search ads, 36% trust the ads they see in social media, 33% trust online and mobile banner ads and, finally, 29% of consumers trust mobile phone text ads.

Neilsen advertising This is all good news according to Randall Beard, global head of Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen. “The growth in trust for online search and display ads over the past four years should give marketers increased confidence in putting more of their ad dollars into this medium,” Beard says. “Many companies are already increasing their paid advertising activity on social networking sites, in part due to the high level of trust consumers place in friends’ recommendations and online opinions.”

When it comes to the relevance of ads, traditional advertising forms like TV still lead the pack, with 50% of global consumers saying that TV ads are personally relevant. In terms of online ads, consumers seem to find the ads they see in search results to be most relevant.  36% of consumers find ads placed in social networks relevant, versus 36% for online video ads and 33% for online banner ads.

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These numbers might seem lower than expected, which proves that even though digital ads target consumers who are already actively seeking information online, real success still comes down to communicating the right message to the right audience. Achieving genuine relevance with online ads will drive significant growth for marketers in 2012.