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Word of mouth the best mode of advertising – Nielsen study

Veronica C. Silva | May 8, 2012
Consumers tend to trust products or services recommended by friends and family or online reviews.

With billions of dollars spent on advertising campaigns, here's some food for thought to consider when it is time to allocate those precious dollars. A new study indicates that the surest way to the heart of Asia Pacific consumers is through their friends and family. And the way the influence is conveyed is through age-old word of mouth.

The study by Nielsen revealed that 94 percent of consumers in the Asia Pacific region trust "earned" media, such as word of mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of media and advertising. The second most trusted form of media or advertising is online consumer reviews with 76 percent of AP consumers saying they trust what reviewers share online.

The Nielsen study also showed that trust in these top two media channels has risen exponentially in recent years with word of mouth up 15 points in the second half of 2011 compared to the first half of 2007, and online consumer reviews up 14 points over the same period.

Among the paid media, television is the most trusted form of advertising at 55 percent. Other trusted paid ads were those that appeared in magazines (54 percent) newspapers (52 percent), cinema ads (47 percent) and radio ads (47 percent).

New media channels

New media platforms, such as social networking sites, text ads on mobile phones and online banner ads, are also gaining ground as popular media platforms. However, as trustworthy forms of advertising, they still trail behind traditional forms of media. The Nielsen study noted that text ads on mobile phones and online banner ads posted some of the highest gains in consumers' trust levels since 2007, up 18 points and 13 points, respectively.

The Nielsen study also distinguished "owned" media against paid and earned media. Among the "owned" media, corporate websites are widely trusted by online consumers in the region, with 63 percent saying they trusted branded websites. E-mail contents received through consent were also thought to be trusted by 53 percent of AP consumers.

"These survey findings highlight the rapid fragmentation of media across the region, and the degree to which consumers' attitudes towards all forms of media - paid, owned and earned - have shifted in a relatively short space of time," notes David Webb, managing director of advertising solutions for Nielsen in Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, part of the company's Marketing Effectiveness Practice. "It is interesting to note the number of new advertising categories which either did not exist, or were too small to list when Nielsen first conducted this study in 2007, such as social media advertising or display ads on mobile devices."


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