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Internet advertising is not trusted

Word of mouth is seen as #1, newspaper ads are second

5:05 pm on Oct 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In his Editor and Publisher column on online news, this week Steve Outing noted an interesting report I had not seen.

A global study by Nielsen Research released this month, based on research of more than 26,000 online users, showed that Internet advertising is near the bottom of the list in terms of how much it's trusted by consumers. Print newspaper ads did quite well, coming in second place with 63% of people saying they trust them. TV commercials and magazine ads placed a few percentage points behend. Search ads were trusted by 34% of consumers, and banner ads (still the stalwart at most newspaper sites) were trusted by just 26% of respondents.

What was No. 1? Word of mouth. (WOM means not only friends telling friends about products and services that they recommend, but being empowered by the Internet to share their recommendations with a broad and loose group of "friends" who may belong to online communities of people with shared interests. WOM also includes all the consumer reviews -- e.g., book and product reviews by consumers on Amazon.com -- that people now rely on so heavily to make purchasing decisions.)

What I get out of that Nielsen survey (and it confirms other research I've seen that now puts word of mouth as the most effective form of marketing) is that over time, more and more marketers will move some money out of traditional advertising and move it into alternative approaches that will facilitate word of mouth marketing.

You can read the entire column here, which should be interesting to anyone who builds and manages websites for businesses. It makes a very good case for investing more into the web and going directly to the consumer with your message:

7:29 pm on Oct 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I heard about this survey also, this weekend, and I laughed. I definitely think that Steve Outing has the right perspective on the ridiculous results of this biased survey.

And I wouldn't be surprised even if a "fair" survey under-counted "the internet" as a source of information used when making purchasing decisions.

First, most people don't KNOW why they do many of the things they do. Second, many people don't want to ADMIT how they made a decision -- they may feel embarassed.

Lots of people won't admit that they met someone through an online 'personal ad.' (I met my wife through a 'personals' ad she placed on CraigsList.org.)

When I was an estate-planning attorney, I had a listing in the Yellow Pages, but not one client EVER admitted that they found me in the phone book. There were a few clients that I was quite sure had found me that way, and many others who could never explain how they found my name.

After I started promoting my estate-planning practice on the internet, I gained a number of new clients who had never used the internet, but whose adult children had found me online and gave my contact information to mom or dad, often along with a copy of an article from my web site.

I believe that 90% or more of Neilsen's revenue comes from TV and radio (and ad agencies that produce TV and radio commercials), so I would expect this survey to be strongly biased in "favor of" those industries.

8:06 pm on Oct 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I agree with MarkWelch's response. The basic principal is this. Whenever you hear any piece of news try to think about WHO pays their bills. Either on TV or online etc.
The world looks like a much different place when the first thing you ask is how does this generate dollars for them.

For Example: CNN's new ireport. They try and make it look like they are letting you get your videos on their show for free. But they re-sale the content to others and now get your content for free. Along with sellings ads on their new "for the people" site. So the next time you have a video of a tornado blowing through a trailor park and shooting bodies into the sky. Maybe you could exploit the tragedy for your own gain rather than give it away for free
so they can exploit it for their own gain. They are playing people like idiots.

[edited by: TheGuyAboveYou at 8:07 pm (utc) on Oct. 29, 2007]

12:09 am on Nov 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

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based on research of more than 26,000 online users? How did they get those users to take the survey? Did they use a banner ad or a text link ad. I totally agree with Mark.