It’s a dreadful term but it seem ‘Earned media’ is something we will hear about more and more. It refers to word-of-mouth and recommendations seen online in social networks. According to Nielsen’s recent research in Malaysia, as many as 91% trust this form of advertising.

Sadly editorial content such as newspaper articles dropped from second to fourth as compared to two years ago. Second place is now held by ‘Owned media’ such a branded websites (74%). Online consumer reviews followed with 68%.

This survey was part of Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey which covered 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries.

Malaysians confidence in traditional or ‘paid’ media has dropped. Consumers who say they trust ads declined in newspapers (21%), on television and radio (19%), magazines (17%) and billboards (12%) since 2009. However the chart shown below that this traditional media is still trusted by more people than ads on social networks or search engines.

Ads on social networks are trusted by one-third of consumers while 29% find display ads on mobile devices to be credible.

It is interesting that branded websites created by a company rate so highly. It is really worth brand managers paying attention to this area.

Perhaps also the traditional media aided by the ad industry and advertising standards authority should mount a campaign to halt the decline in trust and show that the vast majority of the ads in newspapers and on television are truthful, not only in Malaysia but in most developed markets.