As Christmas approaches, we start to think about what values are important to us. It makes it an appropriate time to consider what the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey tells us about how South African consumers react to advertising in various paid, owned and earned media.
This survey was carried out across 30 000 online respondents in 60 countries. While this methodology has the advantage of cost effectively providing global scale and reach, it does, however, mean that the results reflect the habits of the current internet users rather than the population as a whole. To put this into context in the South African environment, AMPS 2015A indicates that nearly three quarters (71.9%) of LSM 8-10 adults use the internet in the past seven days. This drops to 38% amongst LSM 5-7 adults and down to 17% amongst LSM 1-4 respondents. The perspective is, therefore, confined to the more privileged sector of society.
Unsurprisingly, across the globe, respondents claim that the most credible form of advertising is recommendations from people they know – more that 80% either “completely or somewhat trust” the recommendations of their family or social circles. South Africans are even more reliant on the advice of friends and family, with close to 90% identifying this as the most trustworthy source of information.
Internationally, the survey shows respondents also tend to trust the opinions of their fellow consumers posted on-line. This is the third most trusted source, interestingly falling just behind branded websites. Tied in third place with online consumer opinion is that of editorial content, such as newspaper articles.
Intriguingly, despite all the prognostications of the death of traditional advertising, consumers internationally continue to trust TV advertising (63%). In fact, trust in this format has actually risen slightly over the previous year! Close behind TV advertising comes advertising in newspapers (60%) and magazines (58%). These formats have shown slight declines since 2013 down one and two percentage points, respectively.
Trust in paid online ads as remained relatively stable since the last survey but does lag behind traditional formats; 48% of global respondents claim that they completely or somewhat trust online video ads, while 47% and 46% respectively trust ads served in search engine results and ads on social networks.
Editorial content is the second most favoured source of trustworthy information for locals
The South African consumer differs from the global one in remaining somewhat more conservative in terms of what he or she is prepared to trust. Editorial content is the second most favoured source of trustworthy information for locals, with 80% identifying this source. Truly interestingly 75% of local consumers place their trust in brand sponsorships and traditional advertising formats on TV, in newspapers and magazines and on radio. These traditional formats are all accorded the same level of trust.
Whilst South African consumers have not yet lost faith in traditional formats, they also lag slightly behind their international counterparts in terms of their trust in the online environment. 42% trust online video ads, 43% trust ads served in search engine results and 44% trust those on social networks. Only 27% trust mobile text ads.
The survey sensibly distinguishes between trust and action, pointing out that credibility is not necessarily a prerequisite to purchasing, although there is some correlation. The same percentage of global respondents that trust their social and family circle’s recommendations, claim to act on them. There is a similar correlation for branded websites. Traditional TV and newspaper formats globally exceed digital formats in their ability to trigger action, but these lower trust formats can serve as effective triggers to action. In the instance of ads served in search engine results, self-reported action exceeds trust by more than double digits for (47% trust; 58% take action), ads on social networks (46% trust; 56% take action) and text ads on mobile phones (36% trust; 46% take action).
In South Africa recommendations from people respondents know remain the most effective triggers to action (90%), followed by newspaper (81%) and TV ads (80%). It is true that digital formats have an ability to cause action that is in excess of the trust accorded them. 59% of South African consumers acknowledge that ads in search engines have moved them to action, whilst 56% say that ads on social networks have done so.
While this Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report certainly provides reassuringly good news for the traditional media in the country, the real challenge lies with the media strategist. It this person who needs to be able to balance the ability of the various media to generate different responses, and to ensure that the correct mix is deployed to achieve the three factors that the report identifies as crucial to the success of an advertising campaign: reach, resonance and reaction.
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.