Millennials trust advertising more than most: study

Consumers are generally pro-advertising, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they trust it, or that it helps them make all of their purchases, writes online publication Media in Canada.

That’s according to the Ad Standards 2018 Consumer Research study, which surveyed more than 1,500 Canadians on their views of advertising.

A total of 33% of Canadians feel they get either “some” or “significant” value from advertising, a number that has been stable for two years and has changed by only two percentage points since 2014. Only 14% feel they get no value from advertising.

Favourability of advertisements has risen. This year, 77% of respondents said they felt positively about the advertisements they see (up steadily from 2014, when it sat at 67%). However, how much that advertising played into decision-making went down for the first time in four years. Only 62% of respondents agreed that advertising helped them make decisions in purchases, down from 65% last year.

Most respondents also agree that having rules and regulations around advertising is important, with 78% feeling it is “very important.” This number has also risen significantly over the years, up from 68% last year. Despite that, fewer than half of Canadians (41%) are familiar with Ad Standards.

When they were familiarized with Ad Standards, 84% of respondents said they would feel more positively about a brand if it was associated with Ad Standards or had a seal of approval.

Trust in advertising differs by platform, and millennials (age 18 to 35) tend to be more trusting overall when it comes to advertising than all Canadians. Newspaper ads boasted the highest rates of trust and comfort (74% among all Canadians and 73% among millennials), followed by radio ads (68% of all Canadians, 70% of millennials). Pop-up ads had the least success with both groups (10% for all Canadians, 15% for millennials). The biggest contrast was in social media ads; only 21% of all Canadians said they trusted those ads, but 37% of millennials felt such ads were trustworthy.

Certain themes conveyed in advertising also struck a nerve, such as depictions of unsafe driving (56%), ageist depictions of seniors (69%), sexist depictions of women (77%) and bullying (82%). Respondents overwhelmingly believed depictions of same-sex couples is acceptable, while profanity was deemed largely unacceptable, and results were mixed for sexual themes or innuendo and partial nudity (both male and female).

This was Ad Standards’ first year adding influencer marketing to the survey. Most Canadians are aware of influencer marketing, but its effectiveness varies. Among all Canadians, more than half (56%) said they have not and would not buy a product because an influencer recommended it, and 17% said they have bought a product and would do so again (6% said they bought a product, but would not do so again). Millennials were slightly warmer toward influencer recommendations (41% said they had not and would not buy a product), and 28% said they have bought a recommended product and would again.

Most Canadians are still lukewarm  on influencers in general. Most respondents (36%) said they felt influencer marketing with bloggers or non-celebrities was not acceptable (compared to 35% who said it was “somewhat acceptable” and 23% who said it was “acceptable”). The proportions of responses were relatively similar for mainstream celebrities.

Millennials were more favourable toward influencers, with 41% finding influencer marketing acceptable, 37% deeming it somewhat acceptable and 19% finding it unacceptable.

Most Canadians were unfamiliar with influencer rules and regulations, as most believed that influencers do not need to disclose when they are paid to talk about products and that there is no code of conduct for influencers (both are untrue).