UK advertising’s thinktank, Credos, has revisited its ground-breaking Public Trust in Advertising research from 2018 in a new study – Rebuilding Public Trust in UK Advertising – which was revealed at an industry summit hosted by the Advertising Association, IPA and ISBA at the Curzon Soho in London in October. The findings show public trust in UK advertising has improved in recent years – increasing 25% since its 2015 low point – in line with other industries monitored. Significantly, this research and other studies have also identified that an increase in the public’s knowledge of advertising’s broad-based regulatory system, the Advertising Standards Authority, is an impactful and effective way for the industry to improve trust going forwards.
The Credos research has also interrogated the positive and negative drivers which most affect public trust, showing that while bombardment remains the biggest driver of distrust, this has diminished slightly since 2018. The most significant driver of trust by far remains a positive one, and that is engaging and enjoyable creativity, at an increased level since 2018.
The study, which follows work done by the Advertising Association’s Trust Working Group, chaired by the IPA and ISBA Director Generals, Paul Bainsfair and Phil Smith, as part of the Trust Action Plan, shows:
• The public continues to respond best to high quality advertising that entertains and engages; research showed the quality of advertising is the most important positive driver of public trust with an importance score of 32/100.
• The social contribution of advertising (as examined in Credos’ Advertising Pays 8 report) was the second most significant driver of trust with an importance score of 10/100. The industry’s work during the pandemic to promote health messages was cited as an important factor, as was increased diversity of representation in advertising’s work. Credos’ report cites the impact of a positive social contribution as an opportunity for the industry to do more on big issues, such as climate change.
• The report highlighted increased concerns about the boundaries of advertising in our lives, with bombardment seen as the most important driver of the public’s distrust in advertising (19/100).
• The significance of misleading and invasive advertising techniques (including a growing experience of scams or fraudulent communications) as a driver of distrust increased more than any other driver between 2018 and 2021 – mostly driven by younger consumers. For these younger consumers, this is now the number one driver of negative perceptions towards advertising.
• Those who are the least trusting of advertising believe there aren’t enough regulations. However, there is an opportunity to address this by increasing the public’s awareness of the ASA and its effective regulation of legitimate advertising, including online.
Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association, said: “The public’s trust in our work isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have and has been central to the Advertising Association’s work these past three years. Working with AA members across the industry, we have focused on delivering a ‘Trust Action Plan’ to arrest the decline of public trust in advertising. As all the evidence shows, Trust pays – with better returns on campaigns and better long-term value for the brands they support. The new Credos research provides us again with brilliant insights on how to improve our relationship with our most important customer, the public.”
At the Summit, Guy Parker, Chief Executive, Advertising Standards Authority also revealed the findings of post-campaign research of its 2020 pilot ad campaign in Scotland, and drew attention to a broader, integrated comms campaign UK-wide which will run from this Autumn into 2022.
Developed in partnership with the Advertising Association’s Trust Working Group and with creative by The Leith Agency and media planning by Mediacom Edinburgh, the Scottish campaign appeared in donated time and space across Scottish media and promoted the ASA’s role in ensuring ads are ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’, in all media channels.
The ASA’s post campaign research reveals that 33% of Scottish adults recall seeing or hearing its ads. The statistically significant increase (50% to 56%) in those now more certain that an organisation exists for complaints about advertising was driven by those who had seen the ASA’s ad (61% certain). Recognition of the ASA’s logo is up and, importantly, trust in the ASA is a third higher among those who saw or heard the ASA’s ad.
Most significantly of all, the results also show awareness of the ASA is powerful driver of trust in the ad industry as a whole. Those who saw/heard the ads proved two-thirds more likely to trust the ad industry than those who didn’t – and 50% more likely to trust most ads.
Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the ASA, said: “From the delivery of an impactful, fun creative thanks to the talented team at Leith, famous brands allowing us to ‘borrow’ their iconic straplines, Mediacom Edinburgh lending us their planning/buying expertise and media owners generously donating their space and airtime, our ad campaign has been a great success. And running it exclusively in Scotland has given us important insights into public attitudes, awareness and trust in the ASA, as well as the advertising industry more broadly, findings we’ve been able to benchmark against the UK. Our pilot shows us that increasing awareness leads to increasing trust in the ASA, which leads to increasing trust in advertising. And it reminds the public of ads they love. We’re now looking forward to rolling the campaign out across the UK as we continue to reassure the public that advertising across media is regulated by the ASA, working hard to protect them from misleading, harmful or offensive ads, wherever they appear.”
Woodford added, “The results of the ASA’s advertising campaign in Scotland show just what can be done if we communicate clearly and consistently to the public about the ASA’s role in regulating advertising in all channels. Everyone in our industry should consider what they can do to support the next iteration of this campaign as we roll it out UK-wide, as well as what they can do more generally to support the ASA and its work.”