The global state of consumer trust in advertising in 5 charts

It’s been a year of turmoil in digital advertising. Ugly issues have surfaced, like how fake-news sites spouting hate speech, can prevail due to the automated set-up of programmatic advertising. Brand safety issues came to a head in March, resulting in advertisers boycotting YouTube; while transparency remains an unsolved problem in digital ad trading. Ad blocking also hasn’t gone away, despite many publishers saying it has at least become more manageable.

So, it’s no wonder that consumer trust in advertising is a little shaky. Here’s a look at the current state of play in five charts.

Ads lumped in same bucket as fake news
Online advertising is regarded as a disruptive experience by 83 percent of the 2,500 people polled by Rakuten Marketing. Brits and Australians are more scathing toward ads than Americans or other Europeans, associating them with other negative online experiences like fake news, compared to 54 percent of people in France and Germany and 58 percent in the U.S, according to the same report. A total 80 percent of all respondents said online advertising hasn’t gotten any better with time, on any device or platform.

The London bubble 
In Britain, there is a clear gap between Londoner views, and those across the rest of the country, according to a joint report between British newspaper Trinity Mirror and research firm Ipsos Mori. Across the whole U.K, 42 percent of adults distrust brands, and 69 percent distrust online advertising. Just over a third of people said they trust brands less than they used to, and 43 percent admitted they trust advertising less, according to the same report.

The results also showed that brands aren’t hitting the mark when it comes to targeting people outside London. Thirty-two percent of U.K. adults said that brands are out of touch with what it’s like for people living in Britain currently, whereas 24 percent of Londoners said brands were out of touch.

Chart Source: Trinity Mirror and Ipsos Mori.

“The advertising industry cannot bury their heads in the sand and think it’s business as usual – public attitudes have changed dramatically, and brands need to recognize this or risk being left behind,” said Andy Atkinson, chief revenue officer at Trinity Mirror.

Ad blocking still a problem
Ad blocking may have had to share the media spotlight lately with other thorny issues — namely brand safety and transparency — but it’s still a pretty big deal for publishers. In the U.K., publishers are losing up to £2 million ($2.6 million) a year in ad revenue due to ad blocking, while the median publisher loss is closer to £500,000 ($640,000) a year, according to the Association of Online Publishers. Although most publishers have taken action, either by reducing the amount of on-site ads, or offering more ad-free product options, a lot of people still have low tolerance of ads and distrust them in general, particularly in the U.K. and Australia, according to Rakuten Marketing’s report. In the U.K, 88 percent of people find online ads interruptive, compared to 82 percent in the U.S, 73 percent in France and 84 percent in Germany. Australians are the most intolerant of ads, with 89 percent finding them intrusive. A third of the Rakuten respondents said they use an ad blocker, and 45 percent said they’d abandon a site if the ad experience is bad, and 28 percent won’t return to that site. 

That said, Americans are more vocal than Brits about having bad experiences. In the same Rakuten report, 43 percent of Americans said they have had a bad experience with an online ad, compared to 25 percent of U.K. consumers, according to the Rakuten report.

Traditional media winning
With ad blocking still rife, it’s unsurprising that online pop-ups are the least trustworthy of all ads, with only 25 percent of Americans saying they’d make a purchase decision directly from that ad format, according to a U.S. study by Marketing Sherpa. Print ads still reign for most trusted form of advertising (shame they can’t save newspapers), with 82 percent of people saying they’re the most trustworthy for making purchasing decisions, with TV coming a close second at 80 percent, according to the same study. Search ads were deemed the most trustworthy of all online ads, with 61 percent of people saying they’d be more willing to buy after seeing one. Social media ads fared less well with 43 percent of people deeming them trustworthy, while banners ads got 39 percent.

People don’t hate useful ads
When ads are aligned to an individual’s interests, properly frequency capped, in a decent format (like native ads rather than pop-ups), people are all for them. The majority — 70 percent — of people surveyed in Rakuten’s report, said that advertising should align with an individual’s interests, and when it does it’s a valuable part of the online customer journey. Twenty percent went as far as to say online ads can improve the overall shopping experience when useful. Favorite formats: coupon links, email and social ads. Least favorite formats: pre-roll video ads, pop-ups, and ads delivered through push notifications on mobile.

Chart source: Rakuten Marketing.

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