Traditional advertising still most trusted by South Africans

  • Recommendations from friends remains most credible form of advertising
  • Editorial content such as newspaper articles, are the second-highest-rated form
  • Trust in traditional offline ad formats is still strong-especially among millennials
  • Nielsen South Africa Head of Media, Candice Ulrich
    Nielsen South Africa Head of Media, Candice Ulrich
    The most credible form of advertising still comes straight from the people we know and trust with 89% of online respondents in South Africa saying they trust the recommendations of friends and family, according to the latest Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report.

    The survey polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries to gauge consumer sentiment in 19 forms of paid, earned and owned advertising mediums. The results identified the ad formats that resonate most strongly with consumers and those that have room to grow.

    Trust in traditional advertising still strong

    Compared to international results, South Africans still place most of their trust in more traditional forms of communication/advertising. This is evidenced by the fact that the second highest number of respondents in the survey, said they trust editorial content such as newspaper articles. Brand sponsorship, adverts on TV, newspapers, magazines and radio, each saw 75% of respondents saying they trust these forms of advertising. In terms of the advertising messages that most resonate with them, 64% said humorous ads followed by those depicting real life situations (51%) and family-orientated ads (50%). Those of a sexual nature were at the lower end of the scale with celebrity and athlete endorsements coming in last.

    Nielsen South Africa Head of Media Candice Ulrich comments; "It's clear that while there isn't one simple rule for maximizing advertising effectiveness, understanding how consumers feel about the ads served on the various media platforms they use every day is a good place to start."

    Trust in advertising within the digital realm is also on the increase. The highest number of local respondents said they trust branded websites (71%) followed by 68% of South Africans stating they trust emails they signed up for and 66% indicating that they trust consumer opinions posted online.

    Ulrich comments; "Consumers are now very much in control of how they consume content and interact with brands. Understanding ad resonance across screens is therefore the only way to successfully drive memorability and brand lift today."

    Millennial mindsets

    Looking further afield, the Nielsen study revealed that globally, Millennials (age 21-34), who came of age with the Internet, have the highest levels of trust in online and mobile formats, followed closely by Generation X (age 35-49). Half or nearly half of Millennials trust online video ads (53%), ads on social networks (51%) and online banner ads (47%).

    And four-in-10 Millennials (41%) trust text ads on mobile phones. But it's not just online and mobile advertising formats where Millennials exceed the average. They also show the highest levels of trust in 18 of the 19 advertising formats/channels, including TV, newspapers and magazines, and they're also the most willing to take action on 16 of the 19 formats.

    "Millennials consume media differently than their older counterparts, exercising greater control over when and where they watch, listen and read content-and on which device," said Ulrich. "But even if they rely less heavily on traditional channels, their trust and willingness to act on these formats remains high. While an integrated, multi-channel approach is best across all generations, it carries even more importance when reaching Millennials."

    Online formats make it easy to take action

    When it comes to what extent South African consumers take action based on which forms of communication/advertising; word of mouth is once again a big influencer with 90% citing recommendation from people they know. The effectiveness of traditional media - in this case TV - is also clear with the second highest number (80%) saying that television advertisements influence them to take action followed by ads in newspapers.

    Overall, Nielsen's research shows that trust and action are clearly linked, but credibility is not always a prerequisite to purchase intent. Even lower-trust formats can be extremely effective in driving consumers to the point of purchase.

    For many paid advertising formats, however, self-reported action actually exceeds trust. That is, more consumers say they take action than find the ad trustworthy. This is particularly true for online and mobile formats. Self-reported action (on a global basis) exceeds trust by more than double digits for ads served in search engine results (47% trust; 58% take action), ads on social media (46% trust; 56% take action) and text ads on mobile phones (36% trust; 46% take action).

    "The formats where action exceeds trust by the greatest margin share a common attribute: easy access to products/services. You like it, you buy it. Online and mobile formats make it exceptionally easy for consumers to live in the moment and take quick action on the advertisement. Often, consumers simply click a link and they're directed to a place where they can receive more information or purchase the item;" said Ulrich.

    About the Nielsen Global Survey

    The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 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 its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

    About Nielsen

    Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen's Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content - video, audio and text - is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry's only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90 percent of the world's population. For more information, visit

    10 Dec 2015 11:58


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