Advertising trust improves as young embrace industry

advertising 2For the first time in a decade, advertising is no longer the UK’s least trusted industry, with both the Government and media now having the dubious honour, with increased approval among younger consumers one of the biggest drivers of the image makeover.

That is according to the Advertising Association’s new Value of Trust report, which has been compiled by UK ad sector think tank Credos.

Unveiled at an industry breakfast briefing in London today, the research shows that advertising (up from 23% last year to 30%) is now the fifth most trusted sector, behind the medical profession (73%), banking (48%), telecoms (43%) and energy (32%), while Government and media have crashed to the bottom (26%).

The report also includes a new analysis by effectiveness expert Peter Field, which reveals that trust has leapt from seventh to second place as a driver of brand effectiveness and financial performance. It also shows brands who moved away from building longer term trust to concentrate on short-term marketing tactics to defend sales during Covid-19 suffered from falls in profit margins and business effectiveness lasting longer than the economic downturn.

One of the key findings is the emergence of a ‘generational digital divide’, with 50% of young people trusting the ads they see or hear compared to just 22% of the over 55s. Television remains the most trusted media channel overall, with 41% trust, while trust in online advertising channels has been rising quickly among the younger generation. They are now almost four times as likely to trust online ads as the over 55s.

Credos’ research continues to demonstrate that people’s enjoyment of advertising is the single biggest factor in whether someone trusts it or not. On the other hand, being bombarded by advertising is the single biggest driver of distrust.

In March, industry chiefs hailed the results of a recent campaign promoting the work of the Advertising Standards Authority, which revealed that those who saw or heard its ads were more than twice as likely to trust the ad industry, and twice as likely to trust most ads than those who didn’t.

The Value of Trust report also contains the results of YouGov/Credos polling among 107 MPs in January, which found that those who do not trust the advertising industry are five times more likely to support greater government intervention to regulate the sector. Overall, 39% of surveyed MPs trust the industry, 33% distrust it, and a further 23% neither trust nor distrust the industry.

Credos director Dan Wilks said: “If people want to truly understand the value of trust in advertising to them, it is best described as results, regulation, and recruitment, or the ‘3R’s of Trust’. Firstly, when it comes to results, trust in brands and trust in advertising media increases profits and overall effectiveness. Secondly, our research shows politicians and policymakers are more likely to impose regulation on an industry deemed untrustworthy. Finally, trust in our industry, its values, and ways of working, is key to attracting and retaining the best talent.”

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford added: [This] research shows that public trust is improving, especially among younger people – and we must keep building on this.  Improving the public’s advertising experience, through more engaging creativity and well-planned media exposure, not only improves trust but drives better business outcomes too.”

The report provides insights and tools to practitioners across the advertising industry. For agencies, it evidences why it is so important to create enjoyable ads wherever possible. Brands can use it as a checklist of what to do more of and less of to build trust, and how those decisions drive profitability. It also reminds media owners that building trusted platforms drives greater demand and in turn greater profitability.

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