Print Is Still the Most Trusted Type of Ad

Some people claim print is dying. As a journalist, I don’t really like these people, even if they may be right. So it was comforting to find out that consumers still value print, at least when it comes to one crucial metric.

According to an October 2016 survey by MarketingSherpa, 82 percent of U.S. internet users trust print ads when making a purchase decision, more than any other medium. The highest ranking online format, search ads, clocks in at 61 percent, while only 25 percent of Americans trust pop-ups.

ad trust

Given the digital media boom of the past decade, the results are surprising. TV and print continue to lose ad share at the expense of digital, yet both traditional platforms maintain higher levels of trust compared to their online counterparts. Even direct mail and radio campaigns, the most antiquated of options, receive far greater consumer confidence (76 and 71 percent respectively) than mobile or banner ads (39 percent each).

Another interesting trend to pay attention to: below-average credibility for sponsored posts. This fall, Contently partnered with The Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at CUNY to conduct an in-depth study into consumer perceptions on native advertising and its impact on publisher trust. We found that 54 percent of respondents have felt deceived by sponsored content in the past, and 43 percent lose trust in a publisher that features native advertising from an untrustworthy brand. But when reliable publishers feature content from trusted companies, consumer trust grows by 41 percent. The key is transparency through clear labeling and honest storytelling. (You can check out the whole study here if you want to read more on the topic.)

Transparency and honesty are key marks of trust for other ad formats as well. If old-school advertising tactics continue to fade, digital marketers have to find a way to increase trust before consumers tune them out for good.

Image by Getty

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