"Advertising without trust is just noise"

The latest research from the UK advertising’s thinktank Credos has revealed that public trust in advertising is improving

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director


“Advertising without trust is just noise”. Phil Smith, Director General of ISBA explains how integral trust is to the creative industries success.

Smith, who was speaking at The Trust Summit, hosted by the Advertising Association, IPA and ISBA at the Curzon Soho and online on Hopin, made his comments as the latest research from UK advertising’s thinktank Credos revealed that public trust in advertising has improved. 

The research shows that public trust in UK advertising has improved in recent years - which has increased by a quarter since its 2015 low. The research also shows that an increase in public knowledge of the Advertising Standards Authority, has an impact on improving trust. 

Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association, explained: “The public’s trust in our work isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have and has been central to the Advertising Association’s work these past three years. Working with AA members across the industry, we have focused on delivering a ‘Trust Action Plan’ to arrest the decline of public trust in advertising. As all the evidence shows, trust pays – with better returns on campaigns and better long-term value for the brands they support. The new Credos research provides us again with brilliant insights on how to improve our relationship with our most important customer, the public.”

The trust factor

The real world impact of the trust factor on that most important of customers was brought to life at the conference via a video of Credos’ qualitative research showing the ways in which consumers interact and feel about advertising.

The vox pops, which were shared at the industry summit, underlined the challenges that consumers face when it comes to advertising overwhelm and misinformation. As one consumer noted: “I'm literally just onto TikTok and there is an ad for Lancome, it's draining.” While another shared: “There is no escape from it.” 

They also revealed the positive sentiment that comes hand in hand with taking diversity seriously; with contributors sharing the positive impact of seeing diversity on screen. 

Over the past 18 months brands have played an unprecedented role in consumers' lives; rethinking and re-organising their offerings to support consumers in the midst of the significant economic and emotional challenges of the pandemic. A shift reflected by one contributor to the research declaring that: “Amazon has become my best friend.” 

Creativity is a competitive advantage

Credos research will be welcome reading for anyone in the business of creativity; for it reveals that the public continues to respond best to high quality advertising that entertains and engages. The research showed that quality of advertising is the most important positive driver of public trust with an importance score of 32/100.

As one female respondent to the qualitative research revealed: “I think UK advertising should be more inspiring, bring hope, dreams, motivation and a positive mindset as they play a big role in people’s mood, desire to thrive and optimism.”

The conference also digested the results of an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) advertising campaign in Scotland which showed that awareness of the ASA is a powerful driver of trust in the ad industry as a whole. Those who saw/heard the ads proved two-thirds more likely to trust the ad industry than those who didn’t - and 50% more likely to trust most ads.

Guy Parker, CEO of the ASA, explained: “Increased trust in the ASA, in turn, increases trust in the advertising industry and its ads.”

Closing the conference, Keith Weed, president of the Advertising Association, pointed to the Unstereotype Alliance as a key driver of trust and positivity in advertising. Showing that to date ad spend is up 18.2% in 2021 beating the record set in 1988.

He pointed to Ad Net Zero, a campaign which is being taken up internationally and the All In census as important building blocks for the industry. An action orientated approach which reflects the industry’s commitment to trust and transparency.  


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