Ad council report has a message for celebrities, education sector

Topics advertising | ISA | ASCI

Real estate ads were found to be among the least trusted.
Five years after it conducted a study to gauge people’s trust in advertising, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) have brought out another such report that offers some lessons for advertisers, celebrity endorsers and regulators.

At a macro level, the study, Trust in Advertising, found that 80 per cent people tended to believe advertising messages across media rather than being sceptical of them. And that ads appearing on traditional media continued to be seen as more trustworthy. In this respect, newspaper advertising took the lead (86 per cent), followed by ads on TV and radio (both 83 per cent). Since 2015, when the study was last conducted, text/SMS ads have, however, lost the trust of consumers to become the least trusted (down from 58 to 52 per cent). And consumption of advertising on digital media — both in rural and urban India — has increased (82 per cent) to become second only after TV (94 per cent).

Within sectors, it turned out that advertisements of educational institutions commanded a very high level of trust (82 per cent). “People across the country and across classes have faith in the power of education to improve their lives, and so they want to believe the promises that the educational institutions and, of late, edtech companies make in their ads,” says Manisha Kapoor, secretary general, ASCI. “And yet, a large portion of complaints of misleading ads that come to us are from the education sector.”

ASCI, for instance, processed 15 complaints against seven advertisements of popular children’s coding platform WhiteHat Jr earlier this year. Five of these were in potential violation of the ASCI code, says Kapoor, adding that the advertiser agreed to immediately withdraw them when ASCI intervened.

ASCI, a self-regulatory body, closely tracks ads across platforms and asks them to be modified or withdrawn if it finds them violating its guidelines of responsible advertising.

Real estate ads, meanwhile, were found to be among the least trusted. “So realty companies really need to work on their image by delivering on their advertised promises,” Kapoor says.

The study, conducted by Nielsen on 2002 people across age groups in 20 centres including metros and smaller towns, also had a message for celebrities: That most people (70 per cent) trust the advertisements that are endorsed by you; so do your due diligence about a product or service before putting your name to it, says Kapoor.

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