Online Opinions One of Most Trusted Forms of Advertising

    July 7, 2009
    Chris Crum

Nielsen released some interesting findings from a study (pdf) on consumer trust and advertising. The most important takeaway is that consumer opinions posted online are the most trusted forms of advertising globally.

Right off the bat, this tells me that:

A. You need to use social media and search to maintain your online reputation

B. Online product reviews can be of great benefit

C. Testimonials can’t hurt either

Trust Levels

"The explosion in consumer-generated media (CGM) over the last couple of years – we are now tracking over 100 million CGM sources – means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly," says Jonathan Carson, President of Online, International, for the Nielsen Company.

One interesting detail to note is that according to Nielsen’s findings, brand websites score just as high as online consumer opinions. In addition, brand sponsorships have seen the greatest increase in levels of trust amongst Internet consumers in the last 2 years.

Trust Levels

"However, we see that all forms of advertiser-led advertising, except ads in newspapers, have also experienced increases in levels of trust and it’s possible that the CGM revolution has forced advertisers to use a more realistic form of messaging that is grounded in the experience of consumers rather than the lofty ideals of the advertisers," says Carson.

The findings indicate that businesses really need to take their web presences seriously. Obviously, many of us are already well aware of this, but you may be surprise to know that many businesses still don’t even have websites, let alone professional looking ones and social media accounts.

Opinions online good or bad should be monitored. If that’s what people trust, it is up to you to make sure your brand is portrayed in as good a light as possible. You can find some good reputation management tips sprinkled throughout these articles.