With the growth of the digital world accelerating at light speed, it’s extremely easy to assume that the most trusted advertising medium is online.

Google, the biggest player in web-based ads, made over $67 billion dollars from ad revenue in 2015 alone. With billings like that, it’s an easy jump to believing consumers trust online advertising more than other mediums. However, online advertising is actually at the bottom of the list.

Here’s a breakdown of the top four most trusted advertising mediums, according to a recent study by Future Foundation for FEPE International.

1. TV

Twenty-eight percent of consumers believe television advertising is the most trustworthy, making it the most trusted advertising medium. This may seem surprising, as 60% of consumers either download or record shows so they can fast forward through the commercials. However, the revenue from TV ads was over $71 billion dollars in 2015, which is still more than Google’s AdWords revenue. Although some believe this will change, currently TV is the most trusted advertising medium we have.

Heinz ketchup’s ‘Wiener Stampede’ ad from the 2016 Super Bowl.


2. Out-of-Home (OOH)

OOH mediums like billboards, bus wraps, airport and shopping mall signs, and even digital screens in shopping checkout lines are the second most trusted advertising medium. Technology is a major part of today’s OOH, as advertisers target consumers in new ways. For example, according to Impax Media, 84% of consumers say watching a video while standing in checkout lines makes the wait more tolerable. New digital technology allows advertisers to see how many consumers have watched an ad, and we may soon have the ability to tailor the message depending on who is watching. This makes OOH versatile, effective and transparent.


3. Press

Interestingly, print is considered the third most-trusted advertising media, yet only 7% of consumers believe it’s the most memorable. Newspaper ads are considered more appropriate for older readers (45 and up) than for Millennials. As younger generations turn to online and mobile sources for news, it’s tough to justify pouring ad dollars into print media. Even though it’s almost as trustworthy as OOH, newspaper advertising is considered a dying medium, as newspaper circulation continues to fall.

4. Online

Online advertising is a completely different beast, and it’s somewhat puzzling that only 3% of consumers believe it’s the most trustworthy advertising medium. Even when the consumer sees an ad, they only click on it 31% of the time, and 27% of consumers simply perform a search for the company instead. The reason for the mistrust isn’t clear, but there are signs that the lack of control over ad network placements plays a big part – it’s estimated that 72% of display ads appear alongside content that could cause damage to advertisers’ brands.

Connect Where Consumers Trust You

Never make assumptions in the world of marketing – even if we all know how powerful the targeting capabilities of Google AdWords may be.

Online advertising’s trustworthiness will probably increase over time, and fewer people will rely on print media. However, don’t dismiss TV or OOH if building a credible, trustworthy brand is important to you and your business. Online advertising, while important in its own way, isn’t the only answer for today’s marketers. Take a long look at the statistics that are important to you, and never choose an advertising medium just because everyone else is doing it.