Research Digest

Consumers View TV as the Most Trustworthy Advertising Channel


  • Nearly half of adults find television ads more trustworthy than those on other advertising channels.
  • Generation Z respondents also said that they trust ads they see on TV. Conversely, they view social media as the most untrustworthy advertising channel.
  • Consumers have mixed feelings about targeted ads—28% of viewers see targeted ads in a positive light, while 38% of adults find targeted ads “creepy”.

Consumers find television ads more trustworthy than those on other advertising channels.

With so many advertising channels out there, brands need to be mindful of when and where they advertise, with special consideration of the channels that not only have a high number of potential customers, but those that people trust. Turns out, consumers view TV as one of the most trustworthy advertising channels.

Nearly half (46%) of adults¹ said that they find television advertising the most trustworthy. Tied with TV was print ads—an interesting finding, considering that many formerly popular print assets (newspapers, magazines, etc.) have fallen out of favor in recent years. More surprising though, is the advertising channel that came in last on the list—only 19% of consumers reported that they trust ads that they see on social media.

Not only do adults deem TV the most trustworthy platform for advertisements, a majority of consumers believe TV ads are helpful. Fifty-five percent² of adults in the US reported that they find advertising on linear TV to be effective.

Gen Z Also Trusts TV Ads

While members of Generation Z are heavy social media users, they also view TV and print advertisements as most trustworthy. In fact, in line with adult consumers in general, 46%³ of Gen Z respondents said that they trust ads they see on TV. Conversely, 61% of this group reported that they don’t find social media ads trustworthy.

Advertisers should take advantage of the knowledge that adults in general and Gen Z in particular view TV ads as most trustworthy. While social media might capture the attention of many consumers, TV advertising may prove the best bet for actually driving conversions. While running ads on television hasn’t historically been attainable for all brands, the rise of Connected TV (CTV) has made it accessible for advertisers from a variety of sizes and industries.

All of this said, brands need to be mindful of audience targeting and how they’re messaging to various customer segments.

Consumers Have Mixed Feelings About Targeted Advertisements

For those who are interested in or already are advertising on television screens, targeted ads can be helpful in getting their brand’s message out to the right types of consumers. Via targeted advertising, brands can serve viewers with ads that are relevant to them, based on their household demographics and other behavioral factors. The technology around this type of advertising is a staple in many marketing strategies and has become very sophisticated—especially on CTV. CTV allows for extensive audience building and targeting, making the process of serving targeted ads to specific consumer segments precise and easy.

While targeted ads can support brands’ advertising efforts, consumers have mixed feelings about them. Twenty-eight percent⁴ of TV viewers said that they see targeted ads in a positive light. Some of the benefits of targeted ads identified by consumers⁵ are: access to promotional sales or incentives, discovering new brands and receiving personalized product recommendations.

On the other hand, when served incorrectly, targeted ads can lead to negative consumer feelings. For instance, 38% of adults find targeted ads “creepy”⁶. In addition, a recent survey found that nearly half (49%)⁷ of consumers say they’ve been incorrectly targeted by ads. Delivering targeted ads to the wrong person can cause major issues for advertisers—of the 49% of consumers who said they received incorrect ads, 42% immediately unsubscribed from the brand’s content. And, 24% went on to block the brand on social media.

Targeted advertising is a powerful tool for many brands, but it needs to be executed correctly in order to properly resonate with and instill trust in consumers.

Final Thoughts

Understanding that consumers trust TV advertisements more than those they see on other channels poses a huge opportunity for brands. CTV has made advertising on television screens widely accessible and advertisers should take advantage of the precise audience targeting it avails. However, brands need to be cognizant of who they’re targeting and ensure that their ad messaging will resonate and instill trust—reducing negative consumer feelings and the ultimate loss of business.

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