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Most consumers do not love advertising, and it’s common for them to express skepticism about the claims advertisers make about products and services. In Canada, most ad media are trusted by majorities of internet users—except digital. And even if the ads are for products they use and love, web users tend to be uncomfortable with them.
Advertising Standards Canada and The Gandalf Group surveyed internet users in Canada earlier this year, and found that newspapers had the most-trusted ads in the country. Two-thirds of respondents said they were at least somewhat trustworthy.
That share fell to 58% for TV ads, the least-trusted of any traditional medium. But on digital, just 42% trusted ads even somewhat—and only a tiny 4% thought digital ads were “very trustworthy,” significantly lower than for any other medium.
The main reason for mistrusting digital ads, named by 30% of those respondents who did, was that they were “false/manipulative.” Sixteen percent complained that the internet was “uncontrolled/unmonitored,” while another 16% thought digital ads led to scams, malware and phishing. Complaints about clickbait (3%) and targeting (3%) were significantly less common.
Respondents took issue with digital ads even for products they knew and loved. Just a bare majority of internet users were somewhat or very comfortable with the level of truth and accuracy in digita lads for their favorite products and services.
Internet users were least comfortable with digital ads in the form of pop-ups and in-app ads. Promotional emails tended to be the most trusted, but still just 38% of respondents said they were comfortable with the levels of truth and accuracy in marketing emails.
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