Word of mouth, and trust in family and friends, is still the most trusted form of advertising for South Africans, according to the latest Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report, which reports that 89% of online respondents in South Africa say they trust the recommendations of friends and family. But in terms of the kinds of ads most liked by South Africans, interestingly celebrity and athlete endorsements were the least popular, and sexual ads were at the lower end of the scale, while humorous ‘real life’ situations scored highest.
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 identified the ad formats that resonate most strongly with consumers and those that have room to grow.
“It’s clear that while there isn’t one simple rule for maximising advertising effectiveness, understanding how consumers feel about the ads served on the various media platforms they use every day is a good place to start,” said Nielsen South Africa head of media, Candice Ulrich.
Trust in traditional advertising still strong
Compared to international results, South Africans still place most of their trust in more traditional forms of communication/advertising. This is evidenced by the fact that the second highest number of respondents in the survey, said they trust editorial content such as newspaper articles. Brand sponsorship, adverts on TV, newspapers, magazines and radio, each saw 75% of respondents saying they trust these forms of advertising. In terms of the advertising messages that most resonate with them, 64% said humorous ads followed by those depicting real life situations (51%) and family-orientated ads (50%). Those of a sexual nature were at the lower end of the scale with celebrity and athlete endorsements coming in last.
Trust in advertising within the digital realm is also on the increase. The highest number of local respondents said they trust branded websites (71%) followed by 68% of South Africans stating they trust emails they signed up for and 66% indicating that they trust consumer opinions posted online.
“Consumers are now very much in control of how they consume content and interact with brands,” said Ulrich. “Understanding ad resonance across screens is therefore the only way to successfully drive memorability and brand lift today.”
Looking further afield, the Nielsen study revealed that globally, Millennials (age 21-34), who came of age with the Internet, have the highest levels of trust in online and mobile formats, followed closely by Generation X (age 35-49). Half or nearly half of Millennials trust online video ads (53%), ads on social networks (51%) and online banner ads (47%).
And four-in-10 Millennials (41%) trust text ads on mobile phones. But it’s not just online and mobile advertising formats where Millennials exceed the average. They also show the highest levels of trust in 18 of the 19 advertising formats/channels, including TV, newspapers and magazines, and they’re also the most willing to take action on 16 of the 19 formats.
“Millennials consume media differently than their older counterparts, exercising greater control over when and where they watch, listen and read content—and on which device,” said Ulrich. “But even if they rely less heavily on traditional channels, their trust and willingness to act on these formats remains high. While an integrated, multi-channel approach is best across all generations, it carries even more importance when reaching Millennials.”
Online formats make it easy to take action
When it comes to what extent South African consumers take action based on which forms of communication/advertising; word of mouth is once again a big influencer with 90% citing recommendation from people they know. The effectiveness of traditional media – in this case TV – is also clear with the second highest number (80%) saying that television advertisements influence them to take action followed by ads in newspapers.
Overall, Nielsen’s research shows that trust and action are clearly linked, but credibility is not always a prerequisite to purchase intent. Even lower-trust formats can be extremely effective in driving consumers to the point of purchase.
For many paid advertising formats, however, self-reported action actually exceeds trust. That is, more consumers say they take action than find the ad trustworthy. This is particularly true for online and mobile formats. Self-reported action (on a global basis) exceeds trust by more than double digits for ads served in search engine results (47% trust; 58% take action), ads on social media (46% trust; 56% take action) and text ads on mobile phones (36% trust; 46% take action).
“The formats where action exceeds trust by the greatest margin share a common attribute: easy access to products/services. You like it, you buy it. Online and mobile formats make it exceptionally easy for consumers to live in the moment and take quick action on the advertisement. Often, consumers simply click a link and they’re directed to a place where they can receive more information or purchase the item,” Ulrich said.
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