Trust in digital marketing not as high as hoped

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on April 01, 2020

GroupM study finds digital ads are too intrusive; many respondents say they have installed ad blockers

Consumer trust in digital marketing is on the wane. Though trust has always been a fundamental part of the relationship between consumers and brands, a new study has revealed that consumers are positive about technology per se, but not as positive about digital advertising.

Preferring television advertising instead in today's digital age, more than one-third of consumers surveyed (37 per cent) said digital ads were too intrusive. The study termed it symptomatic of the broader intrusion into consumers’ lives through utilisation of their data.

WPP media arm GroupM's new report found data privacy continues to remain a significant concern for consumers globally, with 61 percent of those surveyed indicating they would be less willing to buy or use a product or service if companies use their personal data.

GroupM is WPP’s media investment group. In what is seen as a blow to digital advertising, the report revealed consumers are seeking a reduction in the number of ads they see, with survey respondents indicating a high incidence of ad-blocker installation. In the study, 41 per cent had installed an ad blocker.

The survey was conducted across 23 countries, including India, and has highlighted the key challenges facing marketers and the interventions needed to help them connect back with their audiences. The survey was conducted before the ongoing mandatory Covid-19 lockdown across countries.

Top challenges

In terms of digital marketing concerns, top challenges cited were fake news on social media, cyber-bullying and online predators. While 75 per cent of consumers believe it is a digital platform’s responsibility to stop inappropriate content from appearing, 64 per cent said they would have a negative opinion of a brand next to inappropriate content.

Across markets, consumers were asked which advertising touchpoints gave them a more positive impression of brands. An interesting insight revealed that television still plays a prominent role in creating positive impressions for brands than common digital formats.

Against the backdrop of increased digital marketing following mandatory isolation across the globe and in the wake of security and privacy issues, 56 percent said they preferred more control over their data. Correspondingly, consumers are looking to protect themselves. GroupM’s research showed that changing privacy settings and deleting cookies and browser history - areas that inform digital advertising - were globally on the rise.

Though media has evolved dramatically, Christian Juhl, Global CEO of GroupM, said it is crucial the industry works collaboratively to make advertising work better. “With pervasive reports of data security and privacy missteps, consumers are increasingly wary of information gathering about them as they move online,” Juhl said in a statement.

Silver lining

Though fatigued by digital advertising, there is a silver lining, with the report noting that consumers continue to be open to brands communicating with them. Marketers need to “fully leverage direct relationships with consumers by optimising the variety, personalisation and frequency of communication,” states the report, exhorting marketers “to return control to consumers by incentivising them to share data”.

Urging marketers to take a step back, the report shows the opportunity that can be created: “...a new concord of trust with consumers in the digital marketing process”. Crucial in today’s digital age, these issues are bound to apply not only to an ever-increasing number of brands, but also to an ever-increasing range of data types and advertising spaces.

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Published on April 01, 2020
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