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Teens Don't Know Whether to Trust Ads

Survey finds group almost evenly split regarding their confidence in advertising’s veracity

May 31, 2017

New data from YouGov found that teens in the US are split when it comes to trusting the advertisements they see, read or hear.

In fact, 47% of US internet users ages 13 to 17 surveyed in May 2017 found ads to be at least somewhat trustworthy. But 46% felt the opposite way, while 6% had not formed an opinion on the matter.

Extent to Which US Teen Internet Users Find Ads Trustworthy, by Gender, May 2017 (% of respondents)

“Compared to their elders, teens probably ingest a disproportionate amount of their advertising in venues like Snapchat and Instagram, which they regard as their own turf,” said eMarketer analyst Mark Dolliver. “That might make them less inclined to be instinctively distrustful of the ads.

“Likewise, a teen is more likely to see an ad because it has been shared by a friend via social media, so that may also lend it more credibility,” he added.

What’s more, compared with prior generations, today’s teens have had it drilled into them that it’s bad form to be “judgmental.” So that might make them a bit less likely to badmouth advertising as being untrustworthy.

“All in all, I’m not sure advertisers should see these numbers as a cause for celebration,” said Dolliver. “While almost half the teens said they find ads at least somewhat trustworthy, just 9% called them ‘very trustworthy,’ while 38% rated them as just ‘somewhat trustworthy.’ And it’s not as though ‘somewhat trustworthy.’ is high praise.”

Separate data from Kantar Millward Brown found that teen internet users worldwide were more likely than older respondents to be impatient with invasive digital ad formats like online display ads, video ads and autoplay ads on social channels. Teens were also significantly more likely to skip ads than older people.

Internet Users Worldwide Who Feel Positively Toward Ads with Select Features, by Age, Oct 2016 (% of respondents in each group)

So are more teens turning to ad blockers to see less of advertising? Not really.

According to eMarketer, teens are less likely than millennials to use ad blockers, but that may be largely due to a lower rate of personal ownership of connected devices, rather than a reflection of attitudes about advertising.

Rimma Kats

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