Canny consumers do not take adverts at face value. According to a research study, once they come across an ad they go online to check out reviews of the advertised product or service - but do they get the correct and fair information?
Online reviews are now dominating search results as people try to determine whether a company's advertising pormises are worthwhile. As previous surveys have shown, such reviews therefore affect buying behaviour - and even share prices.
However, there tends to be conflicting information online and that is undermining advertising, says the report on research carried out by KwikChex, the reputation management and quality assurance business.
It says that the most dominant reviews sites tend to be those that carry anonymous, unsubstantiated comments. This can mean that opinion - accompanied by influential ratings - is either distorted or unclear.
KwikChex says: "If consumers see negative opinion results, they are likely to give more credence to them and, at the very least, then search for other similar products with what they perceive as a better reputation."
The study confirms conclusions reached by other sources, such as the report published in April by Nielsen, which revealed that "92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising."
It continued: "Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted source of brand information and messaging, with 70% of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust messages on this platform."
In further research carried out by KwikChex, of 20 TV adverts that used elements of trust and integrity as key values, 17 were negatively rated in online search results. Several featured comments that implied tthe business was "categorically" not to be trusted.
Paul Ling, relationships director at KwikChex, urged the adoption of new strategies to overcome the problem. He said: "There is nowhere near the control of brand reputation that there once was...
"A new level of verification of standards is the key to success - and it also provides 'immunisation' against distortion and malicious attacks on a company's reputation."
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