Virtual strangers trusted more than ads


Nielsen’s latest Global Online Consumer Survey confirms that people trust other people more than they trust advertising. As Jonathan Carson explains on the Nielsen blog:

The explosion in Consumer Generated Media over the last couple of years means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly.

It’s not surprising that people trust the opinions of people they already know – it’s why word of mouth marketing is so powerful. But as the graph below shows, the trust in online word of mouth is significant. Globally, 70% of people trust consumer opinions posted online, and the same proportion trust a brand’s own website.


Good news for those who are investing in websites? Well, when you consider the ways that sites often try to drive traffic, you’ll notice these types of activity appear very low down the list.

It’s quite striking that online word of mouth acheives much higher trust than all other online-specifc activity. Opt-in emails (also known as ‘bacn’) are only trusted by just over half of us, and only one third of people trusting online banner advertising – though average click-through rates (0.1% in the US according to Doubleclick) indicate how successful they are at delivering people to their intended destination.

We’ve been building websites that allow consumer opinions to be posted (also known as blogs!) for some of our clients, as well as helping to increase online conversations about them, so we’re pleased to see even more evidence from Nielsen that this is a valuable thing to do.