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People trust ads that talk about values, not products, finds Nielsen

By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

December 13, 2021 | 4 min read

Nielsen’s latest global research into trust in advertising has found that consumers are responding to ads with humor and brand values rather than products.

Nielsen’s ‘Trust in Advertising Study’ polled 40,000 people in APAC, EMEA, Latin America and North America to uncover the types of ads that resonate, how trust translates into action and general expression toward ads.

Nike billboard in Times Square featuring Megan Rapinoe

Nielsen has published its second global Trust in Advertising report

It found that consumers are most interested in seeing humor- (49%), family- (47%) and value-orientated adverts (43%) over celebrity or athlete-endorsed products and car products, which scored lowest in terms of trust with 20% and 22% respectively.

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Value-oriented ads jumped up 10% from Nielsen’s last ‘Global Trust in Advertising’ report, which was published in 2015. Unsurprisingly health also polled high, with half of the respondents interested in ads with health-related themes.

“People are much more interested in how a brand is going to help the world, not just what benefits a product has to offer,” said Cathy Heeley, international media analytics lead, Nielsen. “People’s lifestyle and values changed over time, and likely the pandemic accelerated the change in certain aspects. Consumers are looking at what brand values actually ‘mean,’ what they stand for and their practical application.”

The research also ranks trust on channels, with word of mouth topping the list with 89%, followed by brand websites at 84%, brand partnerships ranked third at 81% and TV at 78%.

Texts on mobiles are the least trustworthy form of advertising, with 15% of people polled not trusting texts. Lack of trust leads to lack of action, finds the report, with two-thirds of North Americans never taking action from text ads, over half of Europeans and a third in APAC.

Only 23% of people trust ads from influencers, with respondents revealing opinions about brands and products were less trusted when delivered by an influencer. Of all markets, Canada had the weakest influencer marketing trust at 10%, while the Middle East and Africa had the highest with one in three completely trusting influencer marketing.

The study assessed trust in EMEA, APAC, Latin America and North America, with headline regional differences such as overall trust being weakest in Canada and Europe; Western Europe has a high 62% trust rate in TV product placement and APAC gen Zs are less trusting of word of mouth than their global counterparts, at 32% compared to 45%.

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