Nielsen has carried out its annual Global Online Consumer Survey to provide insights into the opinions and preferences of Internet consumers across the world. Of the 25,000 online consumers surveyed across 50 countries, 500 of the respondents were Indian.
The survey brought to light that Indian consumers bank on personal recommendations and editorial content when making decisions about a brand. Thus, these are the best forms of advertising for a brand. About 93 per cent of the Indian respondents voted for recommendations by personal acquaintances as the most trusted form of advertising, while editorial content such as newspaper articles and brand websites got 87 and 78 per cent votes, respectively.
Personal recommendations and editorials are considered unbiased information and hence play a huge role in a consumer's decision making process.
In India, as against consumer posted opinions gaining ground in other countries, advertising on traditional media such as newspapers and television (77 and 76 per cent respectively) is still ahead. However, 74 per cent of the Indian respondents trust consumer opinions posted online, making it the sixth most trusted form of advertising even better than magazine ads which were voted for by 73 per cent of the respondents.
A survey of this nature, where consumers' trust in advertising is gauged, was first carried out in April 2007. The studies over the past two years reveal that 'brand sponsorship' and 'ads before movies' have seen the greatest increase in levels of trust, both experiencing 20 percentage points' increase. Thus, 'brand sponsorship' has jumped up this year to gain 72 per cent of the votes and 'ads before movies' garnered 61 per cent of the votes in India.
Text ads on mobile phones is still at the lower end of the chart. However, this year, it saw the second highest increase in terms of rising trust, increasing from 24 per cent in April 2007 to 43 per cent in April 2009.
Globally, brand websites are the most trusted form of advertising, the greatest being in China (82 per cent); with Pakistan (81 per cent) and Vietnam (80 per cent) coming close. India ranks sixth, with 78 per cent voters trusting brand websites.
When it comes to trusting brand sponsorship, India ranks twelfth (72 per cent) among the 50 countries that took part in the survey. India ranks eighth among the 50 countries represented in the survey for trusting consumer opinions online.
"It shows that despite the authority of word of mouth when it comes to decision making, advertisers still have a major say in the process," says Vatsala Pant, associate director, consumer research, The Nielsen Company. "The website and the process of monitoring feedback through it is a golden opportunity for advertisers to shape the tone and content of consumer opinion before it reaches the digital masses and also make their messaging more realistic based on consumer feedback," she adds.
Although brand websites score highly amongst Internet consumers, the survey shows that other forms of digital advertising are trusted less than ads appearing in traditional media such as TV, billboards, radio, magazines and newspapers. Text ads on mobile phones (43 per cent), online banner ads (46 per cent), online video ads (50 per cent) and ads in search engine results (50 per cent) are the forms of advertising least likely to elicit a degree of trust.