Consumers Trust Earned Media More than Paid Media, According to Nielsen

Some 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising, an increase of 18 percent since 2007, according to a new study from Nielsen. 

You might say such attitudes account for the greater interest in earned media (stories in mass media)  and owned media (sometimes called “brand publishing”). When one channel–paid media–starts to underperform, it is only logical for business-to-business marketers to look to other available channels that offer hope of better performance. 

Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising with 70 percent of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust this platform, an increase of 15 percent in four years, Nielsen says

In part, that is why B2B marketers are more interested in content marketing, and content curation, than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Not only have new channel possibilities emerged (social media, online, web, wikis, gaming, audio and video portals), but the effectiveness of older channels has declined. 

B2B marketers now face a proliferation of relatively affordble and easy-to-use self-publishing channels and tools, at the same time that return from investments in older channels is less. 

Nielsen’s survey of more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries shows that 47 percent of consumers around the world say they trust paid television, magazine and newspaper ads. That is down by 24 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent, respectively, since 2009. 

Still, the majority of advertising dollars are spent on traditional or paid media, such as television. In 2011, overall global ad spend saw a seven percent increase over 2010, according to Nielsen. 

It doesn’t take lots of acumen to suggest that spending will continue shifting in the direction of newer channels, given all those trends.