Trust in traditional advertising still strong: Nielsen survey

Word-of-mouth recommendations are the most credible source of advertising, according to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report. 82% of online respondents in Hong Kong say they trust the recommendations of friends and family, a decline of one percentage point from 2013 (83%).

Despite continued media fragmentation, the proliferation of online formats has not eroded trust in traditional (offline) paid channels. TV, newspapers and magazines remain trusted advertising formats.

The survey shows that more than 40% of the Hong Kong respondents said they completely or somewhat trust those ads on TV and newspapers (both 46%), which went up 2 and 1% points, respectively, from two years ago.

Slightly fewer trust ads in magazines (41%), which fell one percentage point from 2013.

“In fact, for many traditional paid channels, self-reported action actually exceeds trust,” said Irene Chen, vice president, Media, Taiwan & Hong Kong.

“For instance, self-reported action exceeds trust by more than double digits for TV ads (46% trust 72% take action). While digital ads can offer considerable benefits—such as precision-focused campaigns, in-flight adjustments and more creative options—moving from TV to an all-display digital plan is a bold move for any marketer. Consider a mix of both offline and online channels for the best ROI.”

Meanwhile, 60% of the respondents indicate that they trust consumer opinions posted online, which rates second in 2015, up 3% from 2013.

Owned online channels are also among the most trusted advertising formats. Trust in advertising on branded websites remained unchanged at 53% in 2015, the third-most-trusted format.

Again, word-of-mouth format, such as recommendations from family and friends and consumer opinions posted online, prompted the highest levels of action, among 88% and 74% of respondents, respectively.

Roughly two-thirds of respondents indicated that they take action at least some of the time based on ads in TV (72%), branded websites (70%), signed up emails (69%), social networks banners (65%), ads served in search engine results (62%), ads in magazines (66%) and brand sponsorships (62%).

The take-action scores for most ad formats exceeded the trust score, suggesting that consumers may be willing to check out a product even if they did not find the ad completely credible. In a broader sense, the overall scores demonstrate that ads are prompting a reaction in consumers.

In addition, nearly half of the Hong Kong respondents (48%) trust emails they signed up for, up two percentage points from 2013.

“There isn’t one simple rule for maximising advertising effectiveness in a saturated market like Hong Kong,” said Chen.

“As consumers are in control of how they consume content and interact with brands, now more than ever, understanding ad resonance across screens is the only way to successfully drive memorability and brand lift today.”

In terms of advertising messages, real-life situations (43%), health-themed (36%) and value-oriented (34%) messages resonated most with Hong Kong consumers.

On the contrary, half of the respondents in China agreed that health-themed resonated most, followed by real-life situations (43%) and family-oriented (34%).

“Best-in-class ads share several characteristics; they are relatable, follow an upbeat and simple storyline, use novel and striking imagery and make an emotional connection,” said Chen.

“However, there is no “one-size-fits all” formula. What’s effective in one market will not necessarily work well in others. A deep understanding of local preferences is vital. After all, capturing attention, conversion to long-term memory and emotional engagement are all equally important. Reaching the right audience, having the message resonate positively and driving the desired customer reaction is required for advertising success—no matter the medium.”

The survey polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries to gauge consumer sentiment in 19 forms of paid, earned and owned advertising mediums. The results show the ad formats resonating most strongly with consumers and those that have room to grow.