Report: 70% of Consumers Trust Brand Recommendations From Friends

Seventy percent of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

The study, based on responses from 58,000 respondents, also found that 46% of consumers trust consumer reviews and 9% trust text messages from brands. The findings come after at least one Facebook partner has affirmedthat the social network’s Sponsored Stories — which are based on friend recommendations on behalf of a brand — are more effective than standard banner ads.

Forrester’s report advocates branded content, which analyst Tracy Stokes writes “has the ability to create brand differentiating by bridging the gap between TV’s emotive power and digital media’s efficient reach.” Stokes views branded content as a “pull” model vs. advertising’s traditional “push” approach. 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.

According the Stokes’ research, the need is more acute in Europe, where consumers are generally more skeptical about online ads and messages from brands.

Marketers appear to have gotten the message. The report states that 79% of brands say their organizations are shifting into branded content. The problem, however, is that branded content is far from tried-and-true as a strategy. Writes Stokes: “For every Oreo or Old Spice there are hundreds of unseen messages and videos.”

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