5 Frightening Facts from Forrester and the Good News for Digital Marketers

Yesterday Forrester Research released its latest report on digital marketing after taking a survey from consumers in both North America and Europe.

The North American survey polled 58,068 US and 5,635 Canadian online adults in Q2 2012, while the European poll took place in Q3 2012, polling 20,778 Europeans from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The report leaves advertising and social media marketing practitioners on both sides of the Atlantic high and dry.

Consumers trust self-selected content more than push communications

Consumers trust self-selected content more than push communications


  1. Only 10% of consumers trust advertising.
  2. Between 85% and 90% of consumers don’t trust posts by companies or brands on social networking sites.
  3. Branded mobile apps are almost worthless in terms of consumer engagement with only 10% to 12% of consumers saying they trust the information given there.
  4. Emails from companies and brands are only trusted by 11% of Europeans and 18% of Americans.
  5. Europeans trust all brand communications less than Americans.

The good news for digital marketers is that self-selected digital pull content rules the roost with up to 70% of consumers affirming that they trust brand recommendations from friends and a median 46% saying they trust online consumer reports and reviews.

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Forrester Research Principal Analyst, Tracy Strokes, the author of the report says: “Brand-led advertising online and offline has lost its allure. Today’s consumers decide where, when, and how they want to engage with brands. With multiple interconnected devices at their fingertips at any one time, these perpetually connected consumers can opt in or out of content as they choose… Marketers face a higher bar to engage consumers, who have more media options than ever before.”

Her report goes on to advocate branded content, which “has the ability to create brand differentiating by bridging the gap between TV’s emotive power and digital media’s efficient reach.”.

Forrester defines branded content as:

Content that is developed or curated by a brand to provide added consumer value such as entertainment or education. It is designed to build brand consideration or affinity, not sell a product or service. It is not a paid ad, sponsorship or product placement.

The Takeaway:

Branded Content, SEO, SEM and Website Design specialists are going to be more in demand than ever, especially in Europe.

Comments: 11

  • Cynthia LaRue says:

    Great research!

  • Vijay says:

    I tend to view such surveys with some skepticism. As market researchers know, people wittingly or unwittingly prevaricate when asked about their own behavior. Companies advertise because they know that it works — whether the target audiences acknowledge it or not! The other findings in the survey are unsurprising — marketers have always cultivated influencers because they know that media/analyst/reviewer opinions sway buyers.

    • Eric Hyman says:

      Well said. This is also really nothing new, this is the way it has always been. The task is really to do a lot of different things that work together and do them well.

  • Judy chang says:

    That’s the status. While posters and advertisment has more wide population to be influenced, it still will be good social medium choice. What reminders me is that truly value your current networks is so important, including employees, partners, customers, etc.

  • Tony says:

    I only trust surveys if recommended by a friend. :) Found the survey to be obvious, but the type of ammunition required when trying to move locked in behaviours of marketers.

  • Good points!
    Shows the huge divide between objective/self-discovered content and subjective/push-content. Also want to add that one thing that has great impact is HOW companies behave in dialogue on social media – are they showing digital manners? Are they here to help? What do they show by their true actions?

  • Couldn’t agree more with the takeaway – but how do we make it happen?

    The difficulty we face as freelancers is convincing bigger brands that professionally written articles about their product is what they need.

    And that they need professionally written content that pleases both consumer and search engine, not crap written by a dollar-a-day merchant in the subcontinent whose grasp of English is dubious, at best.

    It’s frustrating – as marketers, we can see what brands need and how digital consumers are interacting with the web, but they either don’t or can’t.

    And when they do recognise the need for content, they go for the cheap option, which leaves them with a sour taste in their mouth of the whole digital marketing experience.

    (…aaaand OFF the soapbox…)

  • Mr. Simon Bowthorpe’s fact shows the real market.
    We at Growfast digital feels the same outcome.

  • I feel comfortable with these results. Just as before the Internet, the credibility and value of a traditional media vehicle is unique to each, it can’t be generalized by categories; we have all seen how one newspaper delivers better results than another with similar circulation and readership levels. The same is true in other media categories as well as in today’s many exiting digital options. The information is great as a baseline, when the actual plan is put in place the planner’s experience takes over.

  • Adolf says:

    Finally! Facts not PR bulls* Only a fool falls for social media in my opinion. I would never waste my time especially when spending good money. So many brands have gone social and done nothing but wash each other out. They can never regain their gloss. In the end, the ones that avoided all this social garbage will be the ones ruling the store and clientele share!

  • Strategy matters, that is my take away. Online marketing provides an unparalleled ability to establish one’s brand as the trusted expert, build brand ambassadors exponentially and measure results. For example SEM is not just about being found, but what your company looks like once found. It’s interesting to watch Mad Men and reflect on how content still makes all the difference. But the ability to promote content is on a whole new level in our digital age.

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