Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Rebuilding consumer trust in the era of data-led advertising

By Mark Inskip, UK & Ireland CEO, Kantar Media Division

Consumer trust is fragile and in recent weeks, issues surrounding consumer privacy have made national headlines across the globe. From the US Big Tech congressional hearing to the controversy surrounding Tik Tok, a spotlight is being shone on how brands handle consumer data. Now more than ever, it is essential for advertisers to adopt a sensitive approach to data and to demonstrate responsibility and transparency, to build consumer trust. Our recent Kantar Barometer data shows that consumers have high expectations of brands, with 24% of consumers believing that brands should be an example and guide positive change. Those brands that lead the way on responsible data use, will find themselves in a strong position to rebuild fragmented relationships with consumers.  

Trust in advertising is in crisis

Kantar’s DIMENSION 2020 report shows that advertising is the least trusted medium when it comes to communicating information about brands and services, with only 29% of Brits claiming to trust it. That worryingly low figure demonstrates a clear disconnect between advertisers and their audiences, so how can advertisers manage the challenge of wavering trust?

It’s evident that these days, consumers are increasingly savvy when it comes to their own data and privacy. As advertising technology has developed, consumers have started to question how they’re being targeted and what data has been collected to facilitate that targeting. A key part of earning consumer confidence is about demonstrating respect and value for the customer. This means brands owe consumers a degree of transparency to prove that their data has been collected and used in a privacy safe way.

Privacy and relevance: two sides of the same coin

But relevance and privacy are two sides of the same coin. Most consumers are happier seeing ads for their favourite clothes shop, or tickets to see a comedian they love, than they are seeing ads for baby products when they don’t have kids, or a car, when they don’t drive. But for advertisers to administer relevant ads, they require data to establish what’s relevant, and what’s not, to their audiences, and data collection raises concern.

On the one hand, Kantar’s DIMENSION 2020 report found that 61% of connected consumers over 65 agree that it’s intrusive when they receive advertising as a result of their past online activity. Advertisers must also stay vigilant when administering personalised ads, as a further 56% of consumers across age groups are concerned that personalised advertisements compromise their privacy. On the other hand, 43% of the 18 to 34-year olds agreed that they like to see relevant advertisements based on their previous web browsing activities. Clearly there are some generational differences in attitudes. 

One of the highest concerns, held by 71% of consumers across age groups, is the excessive frequency of ads. Excessive frequency of adverts that are not relevant to the consumer or context, can be detrimental. For example, a consumer frequently interrupted by the same irrelevant ad whilst browsing the internet could lead the consumer to create a negative association with the brand. A healthy respect for consumer privacy, coupled with an understanding of relevance and context can help advertisers steer clear of this pitfall.

To avoid all doubt and to regain consumer trust in advertising, the industry must act responsibility and plan strategically, questioning the extent of personalisation and what is appropriate for their audience.  

Understanding and valuing your audience 

With budgets tightening, it’s never been more important for advertisers to get it right when creating and administering campaigns and doing so is made much easier by close monitoring of consumer attitudes and behaviours. Keeping a finger on the pulse when it comes to consumer trends and attitudes will help provide relevance appropriately, in the right context. It will also help marketers understand consumer motivations when using different media forms, in order to deliver reliance and restore consumer trust. 

Turbulent times in recent weeks may have caused consumer trust to crumble but a solid understanding of your audience, together with using privacy safe data to administer relevant ads carefully across platforms, will help brands to demonstrate that they are guiding the way towards positive change. It is clear that more consumers are questioning how their data is used by brands and expect brands to be pragmatic and to support their customers in uncertainty. 

There’s a huge opportunity for brands to restore faith and to salvage consumer confidence in advertising and the action starts with brands and agencies working together to lead the movement by adopting a sensitive approach and using privacy-safe data to create a better advertising space. 

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