A new study by Neilsen called the Global Trust in Advertising Survey, Q3 2011, has shown that while people generally don't trust online ads, especially those on their mobile devices, they are beginning to open up to this form of marketing a bit, though not nearly as much as they do towards TV and print spots. Out of 28,000 consumers surveyed in 58 countries, it was found that social proofing, a form of advertising surrounding word of mouth from one's social group, is the most trusted mode of advertising. It can be assumed the word-of-mouth segment in the study includes peer recommendations gleaned from the online social networks of those consumers surveyed, as online reviews were cited as the second most trusted form of marketing, at 70%.
Word-of-mouth is trusted by 92% of respondents when making a purchase. Yet, only 29% of those queried trust text ads on their mobile phones, which makes sense, considering the amount of spam, scams, phishing, or smishing, as it is called via text. 46% and 47% of those surveyed trust ads in newspapers and on television respectively. Coming in at 50% was online newsletters that consumers subscribed to, and 67% don't trust display ads on mobile devices or banner ads on the web. In 2007, 73% didn't trust online ads, pointing to only a slight rise internet ad credibility.
Interestingly, the study states that while consumers generally don't trust more formal ad content online or via their mobile devices, they likewise trust friend recommendations the most, which is basically what Facebook and other social networks were made for. And, of course advertisers are savvy to this. Randall Beard, global head of advertiser solutions at Nielsen, states, “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 - Brands should be watching this emerging ad channel closely as it continues to grow.”