Americans think ads are more honest than the media

By on March 29, 2017

Are you tired of doubting information from the news media? Fed up with America’s public institutions? Well, you’re in luck, because a new survey has revealed one surprising source that Americans trust in increasing numbers: advertising.

A report released by market research firm YouGov on Monday found the American public’s faith in the ads they see has grown over the past few years, just as trust in mass-media news, government and other institutions sinks to new lows.

Nearly three quarters of people surveyed now say they think advertising is generally “honest” — a 16 percent jump from March of 2014.

Only six in 10 people say they actually trust the medium, but that’s still one more than three years ago.

Another recent study from research firm MarketingSherpa found similarly high marks for advertising. But it also showed that the data varied considerably across different types of ads. Eight in 10 people trusted print and television, but, unsurprisingly, only around half could say the same for digital ads.

Meanwhile, surveys show news organisations polling at historic lows when it comes to trust. The latest Gallup poll last fall found that only three in 10 people had “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in mainstream media — and only 14 percent of Republicans.

More generally, Gallup found that trust in key American institutions, including Congress, organized religion and police as well as media, hovers around the same rate on average.

These numbers have been eroding for decades, but they’ve also been exasperated by a particularly divisive political climate in recent years.

The disparity certainly suits the tastes of America’s president. Donald Trump loves nothing more than belittling the media, and he’s been happy to turn his administration into a vehiclefor selling his family’s products.

The report also comes as the lines between media, entertainment and advertising have become more blurred than ever. New types of ads like sponsored posts on news sites, often-undisclosed celebrity plugs and camouflaged native ads have made paid promotion tougher to spot.

And perhaps that’s the answer: People think identifiable ads are more honest than the press, because at least then they know what they’re being sold.

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