At the end of March, eMarketer reported on trust – specifically the trust United States citizens have for institutions and advertising. The report highlights how, as trust in institutions (think banks, churches and Congress) declines, trust in advertising actually appears to be on the rise.
Today, we’ll look more closely at the two reports eMarketer cites, and what they have to say to advertisers in both the traditional and digital space.
Advertising Perceived as More Honest and Trustworthy
In March 2014, opinion and habit database/publisher YouGov surveyed US adults on their feelings about advertising. In March 2017, YouGov conducted a similar survey, and found that people’s trust in advertising has increased over the past three years.
Based on their viewing of advertisements at least once a month, participants in both surveys were asked if they found advertising honest, and if they trusted the advertising they saw.
Since 2014, the number of people who consider advertisements honest has risen by 16 percentage points, from 56 to 72 percent.
Since 2014, the number of people who trust advertisements they see has risen by 11 percentage points, from 50 to 61 percent.
Along with greater trust comes greater consumer expectation. In 2014, 58 percent of survey participants felt advertisers should face higher requirements for proving their claims. In 2017, 64 percent of participants feel this way.
Print Ads are Still More Trusted than Digital Ads
The second report we’ll look at is MarketingSherpa’s Customer Satisfaction Research Study. In the report, MarketingSherpa focuses on the idea of shifting advertising approaches from customer-centric to customer-first. While the first targets the customer’s wants in order to make sales, the latter addresses the customer’s goals to create a long-term competitive advantage.
Part of creating that long-term relationship is understanding how customers perceive ads. Whether it’s a matter of trust or how an ad impacts the overall experience, both format and timing play a part in ad perception.
As of the end of 2016, according to MarketingSherpa’s data, customers still trust traditional advertising channels over digital ones. Print, television, direct mail, radio and ads in public places (like billboards) are considered more trustworthy than search engine, social media and other digital ads in the context of purchase decisions.
Notice that print ads are 82 percent trusted, while online pop-up ads are only 25 percent trusted.
In its write-up on the study, MarketingSherpa speculates on why this might be. One reason suggested is that print is made more credible by its scarcity and standards. Online pop-up ads can appear any time on any content (no matter the quality), but print media is more established.
Another possible reason is the issue of consumers’ concerns about privacy, viruses and hacking that arise in the online environment. In addition, print ads tend to be less intrusive than banner and pop-up ads, which MarketingSherpa calls the equivalent of a toddler with a sugar high.
Disengaging with Digital Ads
When consumers are unhappy with the format and timing of digital ads, they find ways to disengage. Most commonly, they skip pre-roll ads and block online ads. Though this response is relatively common for brands with which consumers are satisfied, it’s more common with dissatisfying brands.
Another common consumer response is to unsubscribe from email ad campaigns. The most frustrating things people report about marketing emails are receiving irrelevant messages (21 percent) and getting too many (19 percent). How the email looks on a smartphone is of less concern – only 7 percent unsubscribe for this reason.
Whether a customer is satisfied or unsatisfied with a company, they will block digital ads if they get in the way of the overall experience.
Disruptive ads are the most blocked: Large ads that take up the entire page get blocked 30 percent of the time. Ads that cause slow loading are blocked 26 percent of the time. Rollover (23 percent) and audio autoplays (19 percent) are also disliked.
We recently discussed how ad blocking is on the rise. The best way advertisers can avoid this kind of disengagement is to create quality content that’s not disruptive.
Meet Consumer Expectations, Build Consumer Trust
In the face of competition from established print advertising, perceptions of malicious/annoying online ads and all the ways customers can disengage, digital advertisers still have reasons to feel confident.
Earlier this year, we discussed how consumers feel about digital advertising. While it’s true that people see room for improvement and continue to skip and block digital ads, they also think digital ads are improving. Facebook is thought to do particularly well at delivering relevant ads, and those relevant ads are even appreciated by many consumers.
Since it’s safe to assume that digital advertising is only going to become a larger part of marketing, advertisers would do well to focus on levels of consumer trust. Not surprisingly, the best way to earn it is by meeting expectations for relevancy and the user experience. This is how to create a long-term competitive advantage.