Unless you live in Australia or are Australian and like to keep up with events back home, I feel safe to assume that you probably don’t subscribe to The Australian newspaper. If so, it is worth the price of a digital pack for Mark Ritson’s regular columns on media and marketing.
You can read one of his recent ones here (if you subscribe). It struck a chord. It was about the annual Adtrust survey by News Media Works, which asks 4,000 Australians about how much they trust different media and their advertising.
The survey found that the most trusted forms of advertising were newspapers, cinema, outdoor, radio and TV (in that order for Australians). These were all much more trusted by the public than not. Our own study in the UK by Ipsos found a similar thing, except that TV was the most trusted over here.
At the other end of the trust scale, Adtrust found that ads on social media and websites were overwhelmingly mistrusted (Ipsos found similar in the UK). It also discovered that this evident trust gap is turning into a chasm. Trust in advertising such as TV has increased year on year and trust in social media ads has gone from bad to worse, fuelled by fake news, privacy issues, fraud etc.
What to do?
Well, you may well have spotted a TV ad for Facebook during ad breaks recently. You’ll probably have seen Facebook posters round and about too. Facebook has sought out the climes of quality media to revamp its rep. It has even launched a magazine that it insists is not a magazine. It is called Grow by Facebook (but Facebook is 100%, no smirking now, definitely, without a doubt NOT a publisher. Got it?).
It is, as Mark Ritson points out, a wise move by Facebook to use trusted media to try and build trust. It is also instructive to see where Facebook invests its own media budget as opposed to what it may recommend to other brands.
And, although this is a reaction by one company to recent scandals, it is also part of a growing international trend. Facebook is not the only online business on TV. Online is all over TV.
Figures recently compiled by the Global TV Group show that, all over the world, online brands are building their businesses, reputations and sales with TV. In the UK, online businesses have become the single biggest category of TV advertisers, overtaking food.
Trustworthiness is one reason for the faith in TV, but there are others. TV is proving to be the natural home for online brands thanks to its ability to make the virtual feel more real – it is an equivalent to a high street presence; to create huge online effects instantly; and, of course, to build and maintain profitable brands that thrive for the long term.
(If, as I suspect, you are craving a rigorous analysis of how TV – and other media – drive profit in the short and long term, then Ebiquity and Gain Theory’s Profit Ability study should be right up your street).
So online businesses can trust TV to deliver. And the signs are positive for Facebook. Having reached an all-time low in March following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, its share price has now recovered to reach a record high. Perhaps TV is more powerful than even I thought. That, or the mechanisms that decide share value aren’t that fussed about trust.