Digital is the least trusted media channel among consumers, says new survey

It isn’t just marketers who are losing trust in digital advertising channels, with a new study suggesting consumers also have concerns.


Almost three-quarters (63%) of consumers would respond more positively to a social media ad if it appeared on a more traditional advertising channel, according to a new report from the CMO Council.

Having surveyed 2,000 adults across the UK, US and Canada, it found that despite delivering the second highest volume of advertising messages, social media platforms were the least trusted by consumers among the top five media channels.

And although the study is just a snapshot, marketers might still feel alarm with just over 40% of those polled revealing they already have ad blocking software installed on their devices. Another 14% plan to add an ad blocker to their devices in the near future.

A big reason behind the social media dismay, the research claims, is a lack of trust and the rise of objectionable content. Some 60% of consumers state that offensive content appearing on the likes of Facebook and Twitter had already caused them to “consume more content from trusted, well-known news sources and established media channels”.

Following an investigation by The Times that revealed ads being placed next to extremist content on sites such as YouTube, the public concerns expressed by marketers such as P&G’s Marc Pritchard have been hard to avoid.

However, according to the CMO Council study, the concerns of marketers are being shared by consumers. In fact, 48% will abandon even brands that they love, should they see their ads appear next to ‘objectionable’ online content or on fake news sites.

And some 37% of consumers say this would “change the way [they] think of a brand when making a decision to buy”. Another 11% would flat-out “not do business with that brand” while 9% say they would become vocal critics of the brand.

“CMOs and brand advertisers are increasingly concerned about various aspects of digital and programmatic advertising, including concerns about their ads showing up next to offensive content,” says Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council.

“This consumer survey demonstrates that those concerns are well founded. Advertising placed next to objectionable content is damaging to a brand, while ads that accompany more trusted content and media are more accepted.”



Why transparency in data is key to building trust

Maeve Hosea

Gaining audience trust was fundamental for The Guardian, last year’s Data Storytelling Awards Grand Prix winner, its director of consumer revenues Julia Porter explains why this triggered a strategy of balancing privacy with a compelling data-driven understanding of its customers.


There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Simon Jones 13 Jun 2017

    Perhaps this will help CMO’s and brand advertisers wake up and realise that digital is a means to creating trusted, direct connections with their consumers and it’s easy to do when you put billions of your own potential digital media channels into market every day. The reality for most is that digital stops at social – where the context of the content at engagement cannot be controlled (at least by the brand) and at best is dis-intermediated.

  2. Chris Arnold 6 Jul 2017

    I am not surprised that ads in a social media environment are distrusted. They aren’t liked either.
    First, they shouldn’t be there, it’s an invasion of social space. You need to be invited not invade.
    Second, 90% are terrible. The quality of thinking and creativity in digital ads and social media ads and messaging is amateur at best. Even the IAB have apologised for poor quality leading to the rise of Adblockers. I blame brands and agencies for employing inexperienced kids, thinking because they are digital natives they know how to write a digital ad. I watch a lot of movies but I couldn’t write one. My uncle watches a lot of football but he only has one leg…
    Third, the media companies saturate any digital channel with ads, most misplaced and irrelevant. Pre-roll being one of the worst.
    Overall, the digital and social media marketing need to raise their game, improve their creativity and be more responsible.

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