Influencing the recommendations received by British consumers’ friends and family is perhaps the holy grail of market strategy. Tap into this and the chances of influencing a purchasing decision increases.

It may come as little surprise to marketing veterans, then, that new research from insights company, Nielsen, has proven word of mouth to be the most trusted advertising channel, with 81% of UK shoppers saying they rely on advice from friends and family.

These findings were recently backed up by agency, Zócalo Group, which produced an infographic of its own, containing various facts and figures about how persuasive a word of mouth recommendation could be to a consumer.

Emails Hold High Trust Value

Opt-in emails are considered the second most trusted form of advertising in Nielsen’s findings, which also revealed 63% trust this type of messaging, up 5% on 2007 and notably more than Europe’s 43% and the globe’s 56%.

Publishers will be pleased to see editorial content in third with 62%, followed closely by consumer opinions (61%). Interestingly, three of the four most trusted ad channels are endorsements by a third party.

The best thing about word of mouth recommendations is that a third party is willing to do the marketing on behalf of the advertiser, according to James Oates, UK managing director of media at Nielsen.

“This finding reinforces how vital it is for companies to focus on the quality of their products and customer service in order to drive adoption and attract positive proponents willing to market on their behalf,” Oates said.

Paid Media

Ads in search engine results pages were only able to muster the trust of 39%, compared to 33% who put their faith in video ads, online banner ads and ads on social networks. The least credible in the UK goes to mobile ads (30%) and text ads (25%)

Mobile text ads are unlikely to stay at such a low level for too long. Of the 13 formats covered by Nielsen’s research, this ad type witnessed the third highest trust increase in the UK, up 10% since 2007.

Oates believes consumers’ treatment of online and mobile advertising is justification for marketer’s confidence in these formats, but he also warned that the advertising trust factor was possibly being impacted by smartphone users’ affection for their devices.

“UK advertisers still have work to do to reach the levels of trust that consumers have in these formats [paid online and mobile] around the world,” Oates explained. “Here, though, there is still the potential that online and mobile ads are seen as more intrusive – particularly given the increasingly personal relationship consumers have with their tablets and smartphones.”