Mr. Nielsen knows who we trust. It’s us

by Steve Seager

The latest Nielsen Global online survey, which is out twice a year, has been covered a lot. But from the comments I’ve encountered recently in client meetings, it may be worth taking another quick look.

In short, according to the latest Nielsen survey of over 25,000 online consumers from 50 countries, recommendations from people you know are the most trusted forms of advertising worldwide.

Forms of advertising in which consumers trust somewhat or completely

A whopping 90% said that they trust recommendations from people they know. 70% trusted consumer opinions posted online. You will find advertising online, way down at the bottom at 33%.

They are pretty impressive figures. As Nielsen themselves say: “The explosion in consumer generated media…means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process…has increased significantly.”

But it is also a little surprising. It makes sense that consumers trust the opinions of their friends. But what about consumer opinions online? People they have never met. Or are likely to. They still trust them. Is it because they see this content – comments, reviews – as unmediated? Unbiased?

The second surprising thing is that brand websites engender trust for 70% of people. My bet is these are on the ‘somewhat’ end of the scale. And the regions vary greatly. As a good old cynical European I don’t trust a brand website that much when I know the company and have written the text myself!

Finally, only 54% of people trust emails they actually signed up for. Makes you think, doesn’t it. Obviously, an ‘opt-in’ email address isn’t enough. You still need to earn that trust through delivering meaningful and valuable content.

A quick word of warning on interpreting this data: this is a global survey, and the differences between regions are large.

Plus, this survey is about forms of advertising that people trust. But what do you call online public relations that also sells? Social media marketing? That isn’t advertising. I would love to see those figures!

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