While US adults, in general, have shown trust in traditional forms of advertising such as television and radio, young adults find some digital advertising platforms at least somewhat trustworthy as well, per the most recent The Nielsen Total Audience Report [download page].
Looking at the level of trust consumers have in the advertising platforms they currently use, the youngest group of adults (ages 18-34) exhibit the highest level of trust for traditional media platforms. Some 54% of those who listen to AM/FM radio and 51% of those who watch TV find advertising they encounter on these platforms to be very/somewhat trustworthy.
This same age group also appears to find advertising on some digital media platforms trustworthy. An equal share (50%) of those who listen to streaming music services and/or podcasts find the advertising they hear on these platforms to be trustworthy. What’s more, only a small share of these young adults find the ads they hear on streaming music services (13%) and podcasts (14%) to be very/somewhat untrustworthy. And, young adults that use apps/websites (excluding social) find ads are twice as likely to find ads on them trustworthy (45%) than untrustworthy (21%).
Social media is one platform where trust in advertising is fairly low. About one-third (32%) of 18-34-year-olds who use social media say the ads they see on these platforms are untrustworthy, while only two-fifths (39%) believe the ads to be trustworthy.
Levels of distrust in social media advertising are actually highest among respondents ages 50 and older. Some 44% of adults in this age group who use social media rate advertising on the platforms to be very/somewhat untrustworthy.
As for adults ages 35-49, although their level of trust across platforms is similar to that of their younger cohorts, a larger share rate the trust in ads they encounter on TV (59%), AM/FM radio (60%), streaming music services (55%) and apps/websites (53%) as very/somewhat trustworthy.
COVID-19 Related Advertising
Nielsen’s data shows that in Q2 2020 COVID-themed TV ads accounted for 18% of all television advertising. That share decreased over the ensuing quarters, falling to 12% in Q3 and 11% in Q4.
In the first months of the pandemic, Ace Metrix research found that an extraordinary share of COVID-19 related ads scored on their Empowerment metric, which measures the positive impact of purpose-driven advertising, showing that early on COVID-related advertising was seen in a positive manner among consumers.
Similarly, Nielsen’s more recent study found that consumers tend to look favorably upon TV ads that display current COVID behaviors such as mask-wearing and social distancing. Some 6 in 10 found these ads very/somewhat favorable.
Ad-Supported Streaming Increases
The report also shows that the share of time adults spend daily with ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) streaming has increased over the past year. Among streaming capable homes, 26% of daily streaming was on AVOD in 2021, compared to 24% in 2020.
While ads seen on streaming services have been impactful in purchasing decisions, ads aren’t the only influence streaming video has — product placement is playing a part. A majority of streaming video service users ages 18-34 (62%) and 35-49 (66%) say they’ve noticed specific products or brands being used by characters within content on a streaming service. These age groups are also more likely to say that they are very/somewhat likely to be influenced to purchase a brand, product or service used within this type of content than older (ages 50+) streaming video service users.
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: Results are based on a Q1 2021 survey of 1,500 US adults who consume media across TV, radio or digital devices.