Positive Perception of the Advertising and PR Industry Hits 7-Year Low

September 13, 2019

Just when it looked like people’s perception of the advertising and public relations industry couldn’t fall any lower, it has. Indeed, according to the latest Gallup survey on industry perception, the advertising and public relations industry’s positive rating among US adults is the lowest it’s been since 2012.

In a survey of more than 1,500 adults (ages 18 years and older), 33% of adults maintained a positive view of the advertising and public relations industry, compared to 32% with a neutral view and 34% with a negative view. The net positive view, which subtracts the percentage with a negative view from those with a positive view, is -1 point. This is compared to +3 points in 2018 and +8 points in 2017. The only industries and sectors that rank lower this year are the healthcare industry, pharma and the federal government.

Gallup’s data reveals that the percentage of respondents with a positive rating (33%) is the lowest figure since 2012, when only 31% of adults had a positive view of the industry. The industry’s peak positive rating (41%) this century came back in 2003.

Advertising practitioners do not fare much better. Earlier this year, Gallup polled US adults on how they rate various professions in honesty and ethics. A mere 13% of adults rated advertising practitioners’ honesty and ethics positively, compared to the 37% who felt negatively about these qualities in advertisers. Those findings differed only slightly from a year earlier, showing that negative sentiment about advertisers abound.

Even advertisers themselves have reported being torn by certain ethical aspects of their jobs, especially when it comes to using data. Findings from a survey of advertisers by Advertiser Perceptions found that advertisers struggle with their own personal views of data privacy as they look to fulfill commitments to their clients.

Other industries fared very well, with the restaurant industry having bragging rights to the highest net positive score (percentage with a positive rating minus percentage with a negative rating) of +58 points. The computer industry also scored well (+50 points), followed by the grocery industry (+43 points) and the farming and agriculture industry (+41 points).

The three industries which ranked lower in net positive scoring than advertising and public relations are the healthcare industry (-10 points), the federal government (-27 points) and the pharmaceutical industry (-31 points).

The full release from Gallup (which includes complete question responses) can be found online here.

About the Data: Gallup describes its methodology in part as follows:

“Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 1-14, 2019, with a random sample of 1,525 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Each industry was rated by a randomly chosen half sample of respondents, totaling approximately 800 for each. Results for each industry have a margin of sampling error of ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.”

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