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In Advertising, Consumers Trust Earned Over Owned

When it comes to information about a product or brand, the personal recommendation trumps all else. That falls under the category of “earned” advertising. Your product was worthy, so you earned the respect of a consumer, who in turn, passed that good word on to their friends and family. It doesn’t get better than that.

The downside, is that “earned” advertising has to come when it comes. You can’t make it happen on schedule, so that’s where “paid” and “owned” come in.

Take a look at this trust chart from Nielsen and we’ll talk about it on the other side.

It’s a given that consumers don’t put much stock in paid advertising, but look at mobile dragging its knuckles at the bottom of the chart. Mobile phones and tablets are the hottest thing in tech right now, but people are almost universally shunning the ads they see there.

Then again, online ads didn’t fare much better, did they? Banner ads, social network ads and online video ads all came in under 36%. Radio and billboards had a higher trust factor. Ads in magazines and on TV almost cracked the 50% mark. Seems like when it comes to paid ads, we put our trust in the old school methods – none of these newfangled interweb ads will do.

The good news is that consumers put more faith in “owned” ads such as blogs and email. What’s missing from this chart is the company owned social media page. Would a company Facebook page score as high as a company blog?

Now, if we believe everything we see on this chart, then you should go out and cancel all of your digital advertising and build yourself a nice blog! (Yeah, for blogging!) But of course, that’s not really the answer. What you need to do, as Nielsen suggests, is combine your earned, owned, and paid forces.

Facebook did this when they added that line about how many of your friends also like an ad to the bottom of their display pieces. You can do it by allowing people to leave reviews (earned) on your website (owned). Or using paid ads to drive traffic to your blog.

The point here, is that a paid ad campaign is only one tool and since it’s the least trusted tool, you need to find other ways to engage your audience.

I wonder what the trust factor is for a costumed mascot twirling a sign on a street corner. . . ?