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A Canadian Wheat Board advertisement in the Alberta Farmer bi-weekly newspaper. In the Nielsen survey, 61 per cent of respondents said they completely/somewhat trust newspaper ads.

JEFF McINTOSH/The Canadian Press

The advertising people trust the most is not really advertising at all.

A survey from Nielsen shows that word of mouth continues to hold the top spot in trust among consumers around the world.

In fact, trust is going up in general, according to the Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, an online survey of 29,000 people in 58 countries, including Canada. The only form of advertising that saw a decline in trust from the previous survey five years ago were newspaper ads, which fell slightly (2 per cent).

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Since the most trusted ads are also generally the ones that consumers act on more often, according to the research, these findings are important for marketers considering how to direct their ad budgets.

Digital advertising saw some of the biggest gains in trust, although that is from a smaller starting point: Text ads on mobile phones had the biggest growth, but are still the lowest-rated on trust of all forms of advertising discussed in the survey. Online banner ads also showed growth but rated lower than most other ad formats.

"A customer's willingness to take action on an ad is a brand marketer's currency. While trust and action generally go hand in hand, even ad formats that are developing show they can be effective in getting consumers to the point of sale," Randall Beard, Nielsen's global head of advertiser solutions, said in the report.

TV still ranks highest among paid advertising (as opposed to online customer reviews or word of mouth) when it comes to people taking action as the result of seeing an ad.

Trust in advertising, by type:

(*Survey respondents who said they completely/somewhat trust these ads.)

Recommendations from people I know – 84 per cent (up 6 per cent from 2007)

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Branded websites – 69 per cent (up 9 per cent since 2007)

Consumer opinions posted online – 68 per cent (up 7 per cent)

Editorial content (e.g. newspaper articles) – 67 per cent (not measured in 2007)

TV ads – 62 per cent (up 6 per cent)

Brand sponsorships – 61 per cent (up 12 per cent)

Newspaper ads – 61 per cent (down 2 per cent)

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Magazine ads – 60 per cent (up 4 per cent)

Billboards/other outdoor ads – 57 per cent (not measured in 2007)

Radio ads – 57 per cent (up 3 per cent)

E-mails I signed up for – 56 per cent (up 7 per cent)

Movie preshow ads – 56 per cent (up 18 per cent)

Product placements on TV shows – 55 per cent (not measured in 2007)

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Ads in search engine results – 48 per cent (up 14 per cent)

Online video ads – 48 per cent (not measured in 2007)

Ads on social media – 48 per cent (not measured in 2007)

Mobile device display ads – 45 per cent (not measured in 2007)

Online banner ads – 42 per cent (up 16 per cent)

Text ads on mobile phones – 37 per cent (up 19 per cent)

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When trust leads to action:

(*Survey respondents who reported always or sometimes taking action on this form of advertising.)

Recommendations from people I know – 84 per cent

Consumer opinions posted online – 70 per cent

TV ads – 68 per cent

Branded websites – 67 per cent

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Newspaper ads – 65 per cent

E-mails I signed up for – 65 per cent

Editorial content (e.g. newspaper articles) – 64 per cent

Magazine ads – 62 per cent

Brand sponsorships – 60 per cent

Product placements on TV shows – 58 per cent

Billboards/other outdoor ads – 57 per cent

Ads in search engine results – 57 per cent

Radio ads – 55 per cent

Ads on social media – 55 per cent

Movie preshow ads – 53 per cent

Online video ads – 52 per cent

Online banner ads – 50 per cent

Mobile device display ads – 49 per cent

Text ads on mobile phones – 45 per cent

Ads that get to you

(*Survey respondents who said these types of ad message resonate most with them.)

Humorous – 47 per cent

Real-life situations – 46 per cent

Family-oriented – 38 per cent

Health-themed – 38 per cent

Value-oriented – 38 per cent

High energy/action – 27 per cent

Aspirational – 24 per cent

Kids-centred – 20 per cent

Sentimental – 20 per cent

Pets/animal-centred – 18 per cent

Competitive – 16 per cent

Sports-themed – 16 per cent

Sexual – 14 per cent

Car-themed – 13 per cent

Celebrity endorsements – 12 per cent

Athlete endorsements – 8 per cent

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