Of a dozen industries, institutions and professions, consumers distrust the advertising and marketing industry most, by a long shot, according to an April 24 Advertising Age report. What’s more, they don’t trust anyone very much, except themselves. Those are among the findings of an IpsosOTX online survey sponsored by the 4As [American Association of Advertising Agencies] and conducted January of this year. The 1,005 respondents represented “a random and representative sample of Americans,” Maureen Morrison writes: 48 percent were male, 52 percent female; 30 percent were 18 to 34 years old, 35 percent 35 to 54, and another 35 percent over 55; 18 percent live in the Northeast, 21 percent in the Midwest, 37 percent in the South, 23 percent in the West. And 96 percent of them wouldn’t trust the advertising industry any farther than they could throw it. Even worse, 69 percent of those consumers believe that advertisers and marketers are lying deliberately, because “[t]hey want to ‘sell’ more effectively – their products, their brand, their ideas.”
Compared to themselves, consumers don’t seem to trust anybody very much. While nearly three-quarters (74 percent) said that they themselves practice integrity, defined as “always keeping promises,” nobody else came close. The medical profession was a distant second, with less than half the positive response (30 percent), followed by “None of these,” an even more distant third with 15 percent. Only printed and online newspapers also made it into double digits (10 percent). The legal profession and the pharmaceutical industry tied with 9 percent. The federal government as a whole followed with 7. Cable news, tech companies, pro sports and the US Congress all tied with 6 percent, while advertising and marketing brought up the rear with 4.
Consumers use news media far more than they trust it. Some 64 percent of respondents said they got news from television and 37 percent from online-only news sites. But almost half (48 percent) said they trusted no news source whatever. About two-thirds as many (32 percent) said they trusted “editorial content written by an experienced journalist or established news source.” When it came to advertising and marketing, 14 percent trusted “company or brand press releases that are part of a news report.” Only 9 percent trusted Twitter and Facebook links forwarded by a friend; so much for the shares and buzz that social media advertisers rely on so heavily as metrics. And, showing that consumers aren’t as easily fooled as perpetrators of so-called native advertising – ads disguised as genuine online content – think, a mere 4 percent said they trusted “editorial content written by a company executive.”
In response to an open-ended write-in question about who the most accurate and truthful news source is, Fox News turned out to be the healthiest leper, coming in first with a whopping 11 percent. CNN was second, followed by a three-way tie among the traditional alphabet networks – ABC, CBS and NBC.
In other words, as 4As Chief Marketing Officer Alison Fahey put it, “Consumers are getting more astute about the news media and advertising.” That, perhaps, is why “only a small percentage of consumers trust advertisers and the media…Americans believe that integrity is at a low and that people are lying to them.”