How to Rebuild Consumer Trust Through TV and Transparency

Just when it seemed 2020 couldn’t hold any more surprises, major brands hit pause on their Facebook advertising.

Facebook's market value dropped significantly as a result of brands pulling their ad spend. However, those brands also forgo countless consumer connections while deciding how to repurpose temporarily stalled ad dollars.

Regardless, many believe the cost is worthwhile. With consumer scrutiny of brand messaging on the rise, the Facebook boycott is confirmation brands must react decisively—or suffer the consequences.


Brand trust is on the decline

Trust for brands and advertising has waned for years. Add a pandemic, a growing emphasis on social accountability and continued data privacy concerns to the mix, and the issue has only compounded. Suddenly brands are center stage, and the world is waiting for their response. Choose that response wisely, and your brand might experience dramatic growth. Err, and the tide of public opinion may turn against you.

In such circumstances, thoughtful advertising can empower your brand to authentically reconnect with customers. But how? Rebuilding lost trust and restoring bruised reputations are not simple tasks.

The solution has two parts. The first involves what you tell your customers. Marketers agree transparency is essential. Consumers expect brands to demonstrate awareness and honesty. Know your limitations and be honest with your customers about what those limitations are. If you don’t, your customers may decide your limits themselves.

The second part of rebuilding consumer trust is equally vital. How is your message of transparency and accountability actually shared? Does the communication medium even matter?

Absolutely, yes. And our bet is on TV.


Consumers trust traditional channels

Traditional broadcast channels held up impressively over recent months, expanding their reach while consumers stayed home and switched on their TVs. Both TV and radio consistently rank high for consumer trustworthiness in past years, with global trust levels recently reaching nearly 70%. Social media, on the other hand, has seen a frightening fall in perceived reliability. In fact, double the number of people say TV advertising creates a more positive impression than digital.

These results pose an interesting question: why is TV considered trustworthy, especially opposed to digital channels?


What makes TV trustworthy?

TV requires a high level of accountability, and for good reason. TV advertising is high profile. A national ad aired on prime-time television garners notice, either positive or negative. Reasonably, brands tend to avoid large-scale missteps as much as possible.

Admittedly, the costs of TV are higher than digital alternatives—but that also plays into why consumers are more willing to trust TV advertising. They recognize brands shouldn’t rationally invest in TV without being confident in their message. Therefore, customers can also enjoy confidence.

Plus, TV’s process may include approvals from the advertising agency, the brand itself, and the networks on which the ad airs, so there are multiple checkpoints at which the messaging is refined and substantiated.

On the other side of the spectrum, digital’s traditionally low cost and flexibility also come with downsides. Digital marketing is valuable, and omnichannel marketing is undeniably effective.

But for brands attempting to strengthen their reputation with a strategic advertising approach when consumer trust is lower than ever, now might be the perfect time to highlight TV within your advertising mix.


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This article was originally published on MediaPost.