What drives trust in advertising? That depends on your world view says new AA study

The UK public’s trust in advertising is driven by engaging creativity, while ad bombardment sends trust plummeting. So far so predictable, but this year’s biannual report from the Advertising Association also includes some more interesting findings.

Purpose is starting to count, as is respecting data privacy (particularly for younger people). Audiences want more regulations, which shows that the ASA needs to improve awareness.

Working with think tank Credos and research agency Craft, the 2023 report goes on to take a deeper dive to unpick attitudes and came up with three clear themes. Individuals’ responses to advertising is driven by their world view, media socialisation, and their personal definition of it.

Stephen Woodford, Ad Association, 12Oct2018, ©BronacMcNeill

World view is about people’s fundamental values and just how comfortable they are living in a consumer society. If you are OK with this, you will (unsurprisingly) be more positive towards advertising.

Media socialisation forms people’s expectations and attitudes around advertising. The older generation who grew up with traditional media prefer to see a clear divide between advertiser and consumer. Meanwhile, younger people who grew up online are happy to see that line blurred – for them, targeting and personalisation are a good thing.

Definition refers to the general public’s ideas of what advertising actually is. A scam text or email is still advertising and will colour consumers’ views when asked about trust.

Konrad Callao, founder of Craft, said: “This research brings into stark relief how attitudes to advertising are shaped by a person’s wider worldview on matters such as privacy, sustainability, consumption, to name but a few – understanding an individual’s wider attitudes and beliefs on these issues seems to be a critical part of understanding their attitudes to and trust in advertising.”

Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association, said: ““Understanding the drivers of public trust in advertising underpins the industry’s work to sustain and grow this trust. It is the top priority for the AA’s membership and is at the core of our work.”

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