Consumers have a variety of information sources to draw from when they enter the purchase funnel. Marketers will likely be pleased to learn that one of these sources, digital advertising, has an improved reputation with consumers. But, for many consumers, there is no substitute for online reviews, a belief that may prompt marketers to increase their efforts in the earned media channel.

The results of Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey may come as a surprise to some marketers. As digital advertising has become more prevalent, consumers are more likely to believe the pitches being made through this channel. Here are the percentages of people who say they trust specific forms of advertising:

  • Paid media TV, magazine, newspaper 47%
  • Owned media such as websites 58%
  • Product placement in TV shows 42%
  • Online video 33%
  • Sponsored ads on social media 36%
  • Mobile ads 29%

Then there’s the case of earned media. Nearly 70% of consumers say they trust the recommendation of a friend, the word of mouth channel, more than any other source of information when it comes to purchasing a product or service. This trust in earned media extends to online reviews. Researchers note that the current high rate of trust marks an increase of 15% over the past four years.  Researchers also say that trust in paid media channels such as TV and newspaper has dropped over 20% in the same time period.  The confidence in online ads, especially for search and display, is also growing.

Randall Beard, global head, Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen, says, “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.” The findings with respect to earned media will likely prompt marketers to find way to boost the volume of their online reviews.

[Source: Nielsen: Consumers’ Trust in Earned Advertising. Nielsen.com. 10 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2012]