Related to the “Debate over User Reviews” post below are findings from a consumer survey by Nielsen that I had intended to write about, which Bob Fichtner of DRG posted about in a comment. MediaPost and BrandWeek both wrote about the study.
The data presents an interesting and mixed picture for almost everyone. Online, where lots of ad dollars are moving and arguably the only healthy sector (save outdoor) of advertising right now, is the least trusted according to the survey. From the BrandWeek article:
Nielsen, the parent company of Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek, surveyed consumers in 47 markets about their perceptions of different forms of advertising, both traditional and digital. It found that the older forms of ad messages—appearing in newspapers, magazines and on TV—far outscored the most popular forms of Web ads, search links and banner placements.
While 63% said they trust newspaper ads and 56% trusted TV spots and magazine placements, banner ads were trusted by just 26% and search ads by 34%. Even newer forms of digital advertising fared dismally: mobile advertising, forecast to become a huge marketing tactic, was trusted by just 18% of respondents.
However, consumer reviews/recommendations, blogs and “online word of mouth” were heavily trusted by contrast:
The survey also found consumer-generated media is a potentially powerful way of influencing customers. Globally, 61% said they trusted blogs and other forms of consumer-generated media as reliable sources of information. In North America, 66% said they trusted CGM.
I haven’t seen the original data and neither article discusses the “why” behind the relative trust or lack of trust. One can imagine, however, in the UGC/reviews context that users and bloggers are perceived to have credibility (vs. advertising). In addition, traditional word of mouth is inherently trusted and the online version may be benefiting from a kind of “halo effect” accordingly.