Attempts to attract attention online are in vain if consumers don’t actually trust what they see. So what can advertisers and brands do to build confidence?

We have mentioned in other articles that consumer attention is hard to come by nowadays. We even wrote a full guide about it. Long story short: with people always busy and on the go, advertising is rarely at the forefront of their minds.

Most online experiences are designed to retain our attention – just consider social media feeds and endless video reels – so grabbing this attention has become a top priority for advertisers. But while this is undoubtedly important, another question brands and advertisers should be asking themselves is whether consumers actually believe an ad is trustworthy.

If a customer sees an ad but doubts its truthfulness, attention doesn’t matter; there is little chance they will risk engaging with it, especially amidst a cost of living crisis.

A consumer who doesn’t trust an ad is unlikely to invest their attention, time, or money in the product or service advertised. While in some cases a consumer might seek out customer reviews to inform their decision, unless a brand is a household name, it’s up to the advertisers to inspire this positive action.

So what can brands and advertisers do to win over customer trust and confidence? Are there media channels or types of advertising they should either favor or avoid?

The platform: Is social media worth the risk?

First impressions matter, especially as levels of trust in media across the board are low; in a recent study, only 8% of 36,000 respondents stated that they believe what they see in advertising to be true. This is far from a localized issue: across Australia, the US, and the UK, online ads do not fare well when it comes to consumer trust.

Social media in particular does not inspire trust in its users, with 70% of UK citizens skeptical of social content, and fewer than 1 in 10 automatically believing what they see in their feeds. Unsurprisingly then, a social media presence alone doesn’t fully convince consumers either, with 8 in 10 British consumers more likely to trust a business with a website.

The prevalence of harmful content online, fuelled by a lack of transparency and accountability, is driving this dissatisfaction, with general distrust flowing from online platforms to the ads that support these sites.

Nevertheless, with more people using digital media than ever before, online channels remain a vital means for brands to communicate with their audiences. So how