The way consumers perceive advertisements varies greatly by channel and voice, meaning that to the average shopper, an ad on the radio, a newspaper article about a product or service, and an opinion shared online, for example, are all viewed very differently. In their new Global Trust in Advertising Report, Nielsen highlights this variance and provides insight into how consumer perception is shifting. As your dealership begins to evaluate and plan its marketing strategy for the coming year, it’s important to take note of these new trends, especially those related to online reviews, mobile and branding.

Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising 2013

Peer Influence

This year’s report reinforces a longstanding view that consumers value the opinions of other consumers. While recommendations from friends and family remain the most trusted form of earned advertising, trust in online peer recommendations has also increased significantly. Up seven percentage points from 2007, sixty-eight percent of survey respondents indicated that they trust consumer opinions and reviews posted online. With a trust factor higher than that of traditional media ads, dealerships that embrace their online reputation and promote customer reviews can benefit from this emerging behavior.

Growth in Mobile

Mobile advertising formats reported some of the biggest increases in trust since Nielsen’s 2007 survey. With forty-five percent of consumers viewing mobile display ads as credible and 37 percent trusting SMS-based ads, up from 18 percent in 2007, it’s clear that online and mobile platforms are on the rise.

“Increases in the trust of online and mobile advertisements demonstrate the growing importance of these formats,” said Randall Beard, global head of Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen.

Coupled with additional research that shows that more than half of the U.S. population now owns a smartphone, understanding mobile behavior will be key to dealership success in the future. If your dealership hasn’t outlined its mobile marketing strategy, look to channels that deliver a mobile audience and optimize communication with smartphones and tablets in mind.

Shifting Brand Message Online

“While TV remains the front-running format for the delivery of marketing messages based on ad spend, consumers globally are also looking to online media to get information about brands,” noted Beard.

In line with Beard’s assessment, branded websites shot up in terms of trust. Trust in advertising on branded websites increased nine percentage points to 69 percent, making it the second most trusted form of advertising in 2013. As car shoppers turn to branded pages, both on automotive marketplace sites like and on your dealership’s website, look to maximize the impact you have by effectively sharing your “why buy” message and engaging potential customers with relevant content. Additionally, dealerships can benefit by supporting their on-site brand message through off-site display ads, a form of media that saw a 26 percent increase in ad dollars spent during the first quarter of 2013.

Read the full 2013 Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages Report here.


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