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Trust in Online Branded Content Rising
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The marketing and advertising world has been battling this "truth in advertising" concept, the thesis being that our industry as a whole needs to make sure that our messages are truthful, transparent, and free from deceit. Of course, no reasonable professional would disagree with that.

But we would like to change that phrase a little bit. Yes, it is vital for our colleagues to be truthful. It is a shame that we actually have to question such practices. But how about we poll others about how they perceive truth in advertising?

How about "trust in advertising"?

Yes, Nielsen's report, Trust in Advertising 2013 suggests that trust in advertising is actually going up. That's nice to hear.

According to our source, the number one most trusted source of information continues to be word of mouth — referrals and suggestions from friends and family — at 84 percent of responders claiming they trust that source the most. That is a statistic that we would be shocked if it ever changed. Humans are — regardless of these technological advances — a face-to-face type of species. We thrive on communication and interaction from people we know and enjoy. Any deviation from that would point to scarier trends than poor product and service references.

Second came the "advertising on branded websites" at 69 percent. Advertising on branded websites jumped from fourth place to second in only six years. Truly remarkable.

What happened? Well, a few things.

First, more people are online. In the United States alone, over 80% of people have regular Internet access, and out of those people, nearly 90% can access information from their phones. The way of receiving information is changing rapidly, and as more people rely on digital information, advertising will undoubtedly become more receptive.

Secondly, a fragmented web weeds out unwanted information. Yes, Google, Facebook, and other online companies that pioneer predictive modeling and pushing ads that match the behavioral traits of users have helped people favor what they see. Because so much of the web is no longer seen by users, it creates a user experience based on the movements of the user. And for the consumer, it is a good and bad thing. But that is a whole other conversation.

Finally, online ads have improved. The rise of online video, improving banner ads, "native advertising," and branded content have turned advertising into something less to be despised, and something to waste some time. Yes, there are and will continue to be some growing pains, but overall, the ads aren't that bad. Here's a pat on the back, AdLand!

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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