Jackie Anderson [Posted by Jackie Anderson]

It’s not news that consumers spend a lot of time online and, for some key target groups, the time they spend online actually outranks the time they spend with traditional media sources[i].


With all this time being spent online, one has to wonder how consumers feel about advertising online. After all, regardless of where consumers are spending time, marketers want to find them and get their message across to them. As market researchers it’s your job to understand which channels are best for reaching your target consumer and to understand how receptive they’ll be to the messages you have to send

In our Technographics product we ask consumers quantitatively about how much they trust various types of advertising. We track everything from the Yellow Pages to pop-ups. However, to get a more in-depth view of the subject I turned to our online community[ii]. I tossed the question out to community members about which type of advertising they trust more TV or Internet and they had quite a bit to say:

  • Overall, advertising is still viewed as suspicious. As one user put it, “there’s so much fluff you have to take everything with a grain of salt”. This feeling was pretty unanimous. No matter which channel is being used, consumers are wary of the messages in advertisements.
  • TV wins. 30% of respondents to our poll indicated they trust TV advertisements more than online advertisements.[iii] In fact, online ads only received 2% of votes. Respondents further commented that it’s the production value that adds to their trust of TV commercials. They perceive that these ads take more money to create so the products and companies backing them must be more legitimate.
  • Information comparison drives actual purchases.  While respondents were quick to dismiss the messages in advertisements as suspect, they were also quick to stress the importance of research. Consumers know that ads are what they are: sales tools. So, when it’s time to decide on a product, they are sure to do research to gather the correct information about the purchases they’re considering.

Even though consumers may be spending more time online, they still trust traditional sources of advertising more. Many are wary of the fly-by-night companies that can purchase advertising online at a much smaller investment level. Regardless of the channel being used, leaving consumers with resources that will help them research your product later could be your best bet.

[i] This graphic is pulled from our recent report, The State of Consumers and Technology: Benchmark 2009, US. To learn more about media usage or about the segments we looked at click here to view the report

[ii] Forrester has an online community comprised of 400+ online consumers. The sample is pulled directly from our online surveys so we have the unique ability to link quantitative and qualitative data.

[iii] We asked community members which type of advertising they trusted more: Online, TV, Neither or Both. Ninety-eight people responded