Trust in advertising lower in Canada than most markets

Nielsen data shows mobile, display, search, social and influencer ads all flounder compared to personal recommendations.

Fewer than two thirds of Canadians trust the advertising they are exposed to, according to new data from international market measurement firm Nielsen.

The finding was published as part of Nielsen’s annual Trust in Advertising study.

“From this research, we know only 59% of Canadians trust the advertising that reached them completely or somewhat – a lower percentage than other global markets,” says Paige Sontag, director of client strategy with Nielsen Canada. “Canadians most trust recommendations from people they know, emails they signed up for, editorial content (such as newspapers) and branded websites.”

Canadians are six times more likely to trust recommendations from people they know than text ads on mobile phones, the data show, and five and a half times more likely than online banner, social and search ads. Influencers also perform poorly, with just 23% of people trusting ads from them.

Tone and messaging are important – “the messages that resonate most are based in humour, real-life situations and value-oriented campaigns,” Sontag notes. More than five times as many Canadians surveyed said they respond to humorous advertising than they do athlete or celebrity endorsements.

The survey polled 40,000 people aged 15 and up from August through September 2021 in 51 countries across EMEA, Asia Pacific, and the Americas. It is designed to provide “in-depth insight into consumer perception around levels of trust in media channels as well as into the types of messaging that resonates most,” says Cathy Heeley, international media analytics lead for Nielsen.

“By exploring these key elements we can help advertisers and media owners better understand the drivers of trust and mistrust in advertising, better supporting them in defining content and audience strategies,” she adds.