What Type of Ad ...


If the intended audience doesn’t trust the format of the ad, the actual content has no chance.

We know that the rise of digital consumption has brought advertising along for the ride. In fact, projections call for the digital ad spend to surpass TV advertising dollars for the first time this year.

U.S. total media ad spending graph

So back to the question, what type of ad is most trusted by internet users?

It turns out that print advertising ranks at the top of the list. According to a recent survey by MarketingSherpa, 82 percent of U.S. internet users trust print ads when making a purchase decision.

marketingsherpa survey graphic

Not exactly a dot-connecting outcome. I’m guessing there’s a percentage of the internet population that didn’t know print advertising still existed.

Even though print media is old school and publishers continue to shut down their print editions, and digital siphons a larger percent of the ad spend each year, nothing says trust like print. Apparently, there’s something about the tactile feedback of the publication in one’s hand that breeds trust.

Not so fast.

I have a theory that print ads won the trust sweepstakes because the barriers of entry are lower — you can literally buy a search engine ad for a few cents — and it’s tougher to game the print format. The bad guys in Eastern Europe aren’t phishing the latest hardcopy edition of Vanity Fair.

For those who ply their trade in earned media, does the same hold true? Is an article in a print publication more trustworthy than an article in an online publication?

I don’t think so.

For earned media, the source behind the article largely determines trust. If The New York Times publishes a story, I trust the story whether I read it online or in print.

Then again, a case can be made that when it comes to editorial, trust enters the equation less and less as confirmation bias paves the way for fake news — a post for another time.


  • George

    Yes definitely harder to get phishing in the Vanity Fair hardcopy! These results are really interesting, and there was me thinking that print was on its way out… those high trust levels definitely aren’t to be ignored.


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