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Trust in Paid media continues to fall

September 21st, 2012 by Lloyd Gofton

It’s unlikely to shock you to discover that the latest research from Nielsen suggests that consumers do not trust paid media. We’ve known for some time that recommendations from friends and online reviews are much more valued than adverts and paid media, but it’s the scale of this gulf that makes these latest figures interesting.

To kick-off with, here’s a quick definition of earned, owned and paid media from Forrester:

  • Earned media encompasses everything that doesn’t require a payment to deliver a message such as videos, comments, pictures, stories, conversations, feedback and ratings.
  • Paid media includes advertising, TV, web, paid search and deals.
  • Owned media would be the brand’s website, microsites and so on.

As part of the research (summarised in the image below) Nielsen looked at all forms of paid advertising; TV, print, digital, radio and the findings highlighted a gap in the “trust factor,” with the majority of respondents reporting that they don’t trust each type of media.

Mobile Text ads came bottom with 71% not trusting the medium, closely followed by display ads on mobile (67%), banner ads online (67%), ads on social networks (64%) and ads on online video (64%).

Television ads came in at 47% trust.

Overall, most forms of traditional and digital paid media are not trusted by more than half of consumers.

At the other end of the scale, 92% of those surveyed indicated that they trust personal recommendations, and 70% indicated that they trust reviews.

Owned media, such as brand websites, scored higher than paid advertising but lower than social recommendations.

Nielsen’s Global Head of Advertiser Solutions, Randall Beard, commented: “Since trust in advertising lays along continuum that moves from earned (highest trust), to owned, then paid (lowest trust), it stands to reason that brands should want more earned and owned. But can paid be given up completely? For most brands, that strategy isn’t really feasible given both the broad reach and historical success associated with paid media.”

He suggests that: “we need to start thinking of how paid, owned and earned can work together to improve trust and deliver better results.

“why not build social into your paid advertising (where possible), use your paid ads to drive consumers to your website and optimize your site to drive maximum on or off-line purchase? Why not experiment with the myriad ways to engage your consumers across the paid, owned and earned continuum?”

Nielsen’s advice follows similar recommendations from the likes of Forrester that have been advocating the use of paid media to support or boost earned and owned media. It’s this change in thinking that has pulled brands away from Paid media as the staple, and realise the real value is in earned and owned media. Albeit slowly and with little budget allocation.

This movement is backed up by the likes of Coca-Cola, which recently stated that 20% of its marketing budget will go elsewhere, specifically citing inbound marketing and social media.

You can read more of my thoughts on Earned, Owned and Paid media in my recent article for eConsultancy.

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