Press Room

Nielsen: Earned Advertising Remains Most Credible Among Consumers; Trust in Owned Advertising on the Rise

Sept. 17, 2013 – New York Eighty-four percent of consumers around the world say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family, a form of earned media[1], above all other sources of advertising, according to a new study from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. Trust in word-of-mouth recommendations increased 6 percentage points since 2007.

Owned advertising[2], in the form of content and messaging on brand websites, was the second most-trusted advertising source in 2013, with 69 percent of global respondents indicating they trust this platform, up 9 percentage points and from a fourth-place ranking in 2007.

“Brand marketers should be especially encouraged to find owned advertising among the most-trusted marketing formats,” said Randall Beard, global head, Advertiser Solutions, at Nielsen. “This emphasizes the notion that marketers maintain the ability to control the messages about their brands in a way that consumers consider credible. This perceived credibility is a key component in advertising effectiveness.”

Nielsen’s Global Survey of Trust in Advertising polled more than 29,000 Internet[3] respondents in 58 countries to measure consumer sentiment on 19 forms of paid[4], earned and owned advertising formats. Sixty-eight percent of global respondents indicated that they trust consumer opinions posted online, which ranked third in 2013 and up 7 percentage points from 2007.

Trust in Traditional Advertising Still Strong

Nielsen’s information shows that ads on television and in newspapers and in magazines continue to be among the most trusted forms of paid advertising. Trust in television ads increased from 56 percent in 2007 to 62 percent in 2013. Sixty percent of global respondents trusted ads in magazines, an increase of four percentage points from 2007. Newspaper ads were the only format to decline –

 61 percent of consumers surveyed found newspaper ads credible, down from 63 percent in 2007. Although global ad spend grew a marginal 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013, traditional paid media continues to own the majority share of spend, with TV in the top spot owning 59 percent, according to Nielsen’s most recent Global AdView Pulse.

Increased Trust in Online and Mobile Ads

More than half (56%) of respondents said they trust consumer-consented email messages, an increase of seven percentage points since 2007. For other online advertising, almost half (48%) trusted ads in search engine results, online video ads and ads on social networks. More than four in 10 (42%) trusted online banner ads, up from 26 percent in 2007—a form that is steadily increasing in ad dollars spent, with 26 percent growth in the first quarter of 2013.

Forty-five percent of respondents in Nielsen’s 2013 survey believed display ads on mobile phones were credible and 37 percent trusted text ads on mobile phones, up from 18 percent in 2007.

“Increases in the trust of paid online and mobile advertising demonstrate the growing importance of these formats,” said Beard. “With Internet ad spending reporting double-digit growth, advertisers are exhibiting growing confidence in these formats—or at least a willingness to make an investment. While companies may be unable to directly control the messages in earned media, such as consumer opinions posted online, they have the ability to create a positive presence for their brands on these channels.”

Trust Can Impact Consumer Action

Word-of-mouth formats, such as recommendations from family and friends and consumer opinions posted online, prompted the highest levels of action, among 84 percent and 70 percent of respondents, respectively.

Roughly two-thirds of respondents indicated that they take action at least some of the time based on ads shown on TV (68%), branded websites (67%), ads in newspapers (65%), consumer-consented emails (65%), editorial content in newspapers (64%), and ads in magazines (62%).

According to Nielsen, approximately half of respondents said they were willing to take action at least some of the time based on social network ads (55%), online video ads (52%), online banner ads (50%), display ads on mobile devices (49%), and text ads on mobile phones (45%).

“Although online formats have the opportunity to engage more effectively with consumers, trust in these ads is growing as they become more pervasive and persuasive with creative that is provocative, smart and challenges the status quo,” said Beard. “And customers are responding, as the findings show about half of respondents are taking action based on online ads. A customer’s willingness to take action on an ad is a brand marketer’s currency. While trust and action generally go hand in hand, Nielsen research shows that even ad formats that are developing can be effective in getting consumers to the point of sale.”


[1] Earned media (or earned advertising) defined as advertising endorsed by a third party.
[2] Owned advertising defined as advertising managed by a brand.
[3] While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration has not reached majority potential, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.
[4] Paid advertising defined as advertising paid for by a brand.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising was conducted between February 18 and March 8, 2013, and polled more than 29,000 consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10 million online population for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Survey, was established in 2005.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit


Elizabeth Wolf, 646-654-5825,

Mia Scott, 646.654.5459,