Seven Advertising Sins That Undermine Trust

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Trust is an issue that the advertising industry has to address as a matter of urgency during 2019, according to new Advertising Association president Keith Weed, who recently outlined the “seven deadly sins” that are undermining trust in the medium.

Speaking at the organisation’s annual LEAD conference, Weed highlighted the many positive aspects of advertising – including its contribution to the economy as well as its role in supporting news and entertainment, disseminating knowledge and enabling social connections via free services like social and email.

But 69% of people no longer trust advertising, he noted, citing a figure from Ipsos Connect. “As an industry, we have a responsibility to clean up our own back yard,” he said, adding that if the UK were able to achieve that it could export its model around the world.

“Without trust, advertising has no future,” he said, before detailing his seven deadly sins, some of which are more easily addressed than others.

  • Declining quality of ads: the proportion of UK viewers annoyed by TV ads has shot up in recent years, from 15% in 2006 to 50% in 2018. “That annoyance leads on to people not trusting the advertising.”
  • Inauthentic activity: buying fake followers and likes has become a major issue in influencer marketing. “We are undermining the very new industry we are building,” said Weed, but he welcomed the progress in removing fake social media accounts. “I believe if we carry on working on this we can clean up the influencer marketing
  • by the end of this year.”
  • Concerns over personal data being exploited: “People are concerned about who is spying on them, but also about how their data is being used.”
  • Advertising funding bad activity: the possibility of digital advertising funding extremism was brought to public attention two years ago by The Times. Even if it’s inadvertent, it’s an issue and it erodes trust, said Weed.
  • The rise in fake news: this has reduced trust in advertising by 35%.
  • Annoying personalisation: more than half of over-35s and almost a third of under-35s find personalisation annoying but surveys show a majority of marketers intend to do more of it. Personalisation is fine if done well, Weed suggested. “I’ve got three grown-up kids, I don’t need to see ads for nappies.”
  • Bombardment: the average consumer is now exposed to 10,000 brand messages a day as advertising increases and spreads across channels, leading to more blocking and skipping by consumers.

While he painted a grim picture, Weed believes that “we’re in a good situation to turn this around if we act now and act with substance”. And, he warned, if the industry doesn’t do so itself, then government regulation will likely follow.

The steps he advocates include reducing the negative impact of bombardment and addressing excessive frequency and retargeting. “If you’re doing too much frequency you’re paying too much advertising money and you’re also annoying the person you’re trying to engage with,” he pointed out.

Credit:  WARC

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