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AdTrust: young readers driving news media trust

View the 2018 ADTRUST study here.


Messages trusted by the target audience

A survey of advertisers revealed that they rate “Messages trusted by the target audience” as the most important characteristic in selecting a media in which to advertise.*5

Advertisers also believed that newspapers delivered best on this quality of trust. But what do consumers really think? NewsMediaWorks commissioned Galaxy Research to find out.*1


ADTRUST – 20 characteristics of equal weight

Our approach was to adopt a tried and tested methodological framework that was developed by academics and published in the Journal of Advertising. The measurement of trust acknowledges 20 different characteristics (eg. Honest) within 4 key components (eg. Reliability). Each characteristic carries an equal weight in an overall average ADTRUST for any given media.*2

NET ADTRUST – Those who agree less those who disagree

Yielding a sample size of 1400 per media, Galaxy Research surveyed over 2800 Australians aged 18+. On a scale of 1 (Disagree) to 7 (Agree), respondents were asked to indicate to what extent they agreed that ads in the given media were “Honest”, for example. This was repeated for each of the 20 characteristics of trust in advertising before then asking the same of another media type. For any given media, NET ADTRUST is the percentage who agree (Score 5 to 7) less the percentage that disagree (Score 1 to 3) on each characteristic.

For NET ADTRUST, news media outperforms other media when we look at all Australians aged 18+, irrespective of whether or not they engage with the given media. However, the advertiser pays just for the readers/users of any media they use – what’s important is that those respective audiences trust the advertisements in the respective media types. Therefore, all results displayed below are for readers/users of the media.

Printed newspapers are the most trusted of all media

Across the 20 metrics, Community newspapers achieved an average of 48 per cent agreeing that the media delivered on the characteristics whereas 24 per cent disagreed, giving a NET ADTRUST of +24. Regional papers and National papers performed similarly – they are every bit as trusted by their readers. And with Metro newspapers scoring +13, newspapers achieved the highest scored across all media at +22.


Digital news media is the most trusted of online media

Still referring to the above graph, Digital news media (asked as Newspaper based websites/apps) scored +7. Readers of digital news media show significantly more trust in advertising on that media compared with readers of social media, users of search engines and readers of websites, generally.

Social and Search have negative NET ADTRUST

Users of Social media (eg Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) show a NET ADTRUST of -21 in advertising on those platforms. 26 per cent of Social media users effectively agree that they trust the ads in that environment but fully 47 per cent disagree. Search engine ads (eg Google, Yahoo, Bing) show similar low levels of trust and consumers say the same when we ask them to think about websites in general.

Trusted content earns trust in ads

Using the same scale, Galaxy also then asked respondents to indicate the extent to which they agreed the content (eg news items, articles, programs and other content) in each media was trustworthy. Newspapers NET CONTENT TRUST was +28 while at the other end of the scale, Social media achieved a score of -25.

There is a clear correlation between readers’/users’ trust in content and their trust in advertising on any media. Trusted content earns trust in the advertising on that media.*3

News media is most trusted across all key target audiences

So we’ve shown how trusted news media is among its readers whether newspapers or digital.  However, advertisers are interested in different audiences within the overall readership; not all advertisers are targeting all readers. Is news media still the most trusted when we look at smaller demographic targets? In short, the answer is a big YES.

Younger people are more trusting of ads

Aged 18 to 34 readers trust ads in newspapers more than any other media and more than any other age group. Indeed, younger people are more trusting of ads across all media, but they still show less trust in Social, Search and Online generally. Social media does give NET ADTRUST of +2 amongst younger users, but ads in Newspapers (+37) and Digital news media (+24) are significantly more trusted.

News media outperforms across all age groups.

Trust is higher among those with young families

Reflecting the fact that younger people show more trust in ads, we also see the same of those who have children at home aged under 12. Ads in news media are again the most trusted whether or not the reader/user has a young  family.

Trust is higher among those on higher incomes

The younger readers/users have higher household incomes, certainly than retirees. And so we see that those on higher incomes place more trust in ads. Again, news media is most trusted whether targeting those with higher household incomes or those on lower incomes.

Trust is slightly higher among those with no tertiary education

The difference is less marked than in comparisons across other demographs, but those without a tertiary education are more likely to trusts ads in all media. Again, ads in news media are more trusted than ads in other media.

Trust is higher among females

Women are more inclined to trust ads across all media, but news media remains most trusted irrespective of gender.


SOURCES : ADTRUST and Content trust consumer research:

  1. Galaxy Research online questionnaire, June 2017 was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 2,863 Australians aged 18 years and older. Results displayed are Net ADTRUST and Net CONTENT TRUST which, on a scale from 1 to 7, is Percentage agreeing (5,6,7) less Percentage disagreeing (1,2,3)
  2. ADTRUST matrix : 20 component characteristics : Developed and validated by Hyeonjin Soh, Leonard N Reid and Karen Whitehill King (2009). Measuring Trust in Advertising. In Journal of Advertising, Vol. 38, Issue 2, p83-104
  3. Content trust was not asked for Outdoor or Cinema
  4. Verbatim quotes : Galaxy Research online questionnaire, August 2017. Recontact to n=200 of the 2863 ADTRUST respondents : 8 open ended questions asked online
  5. Positioning News Media : Mark Ritson, Associate Professor of Marketing, Melbourne Business School. Online questionnaire conducted by Research Now, Sept. 2016. n = 260 advertisers
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