A recent study from the Nielsen Company found that word of mouth was the most trusted form of advertising worldwide, while search ads are more trusted than only banner ads and text ads on cell phones.
Based on a survey of 26,486 internet users in 47 markets from Europe, Asia Pacific, the Americas and the Middle East, the results showed that online media, like search ads, may not be the most persuasive way to sell something.
Recommendations from consumers are trusted by 78 percent of respondents, followed by newspapers at 63 percent. The most trusted forms of online advertising are consumer opinions posted online, trusted by 61 percent of respondents, and brand websites, trusted by 60 percent.
Search engine ads are trusted by just 34 of respondents: less trusted than television (56%), magazines (56%), radio (54%), brand sponsorships (49%), opt-in e-mail (49%), and ads before movies (38%). Search ads beat out online banner ads (26%) and text ads on mobile phones (18%)
These findings don't mean that search ads are useless, obviously. But they do point to some interesting ways to utilize search marketing, according to Justilien Gaspard. He offers marketers some questions to reflect on:
Is your company
...investing advertising dollars in “trusted” sources of information?
...making use of link development with editorial content?
...utilizing consumer opinions for links and sales?
...encouraging consumers to talk about your product/service online?