Advertising in newspapers most trusted by consumers: ASCI-ISA report

Interestingly, viewership of digital ads is the same in rural areas and metros.

MUMBAI: Advertising seen on traditional media continues to enjoy high trust amongst consumers, with newspapers (86 per cent) emerging as the most trusted, a report by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) stated.

The Trust in Advertising study, carried out by Nielsen, puts forth that while a section might say that people are no longer willing to trust advertising, a larger chunk of society still believes in brand advertising and their messages. They still make their purchases and preferences on the basis of this.

The study was conducted with people across age groups in 20 centres in India, including metros, smaller towns and rural areas. The study found that eight out of 10 people trusted advertising messages across media.

TV (94 per cent) was the most common medium for consumption of advertising, followed by digital (82 per cent), print (77 per cent) and radio (29 per cent). Viewership of TV ads is driven by non-metro markets.  Interestingly, viewership of ads on digital is the same in rural (82 per cent) as it is in metros (83 per cent).

According to Nielsen global head - strategic alliances and new verticals Prasun Basu, this demonstrates the growing importance and centrality of this medium in the hinterland. ASCI spotted early that the growing consumption of digital content and advertising pointed to a permanent change in consumer behaviour and marketing. Accordingly, it set up robust monitoring mechanisms for digital platforms alongside its monitoring of print and TV advertising. It now scans more than 3,000 digital platforms for misleading messages.

While newspapers are the most trusted medium of ads with 86 per cent consumers reposing faith in them, TV (83 per cent) and radio (83 per cent) are not far behind. Text/SMS ads were the least trusted at 52 per cent.

About 70 per cent of the respondents said they trust advertisements which are endorsed by celebrities.  

In terms of shifts, consumers put greater trust in advertisements consumed on TV, print, radio, social media, outdoor and search engines as compared to what they did in a similar survey conducted by Nielsen in 2015. However, there is a fall in the percentage of consumers trusting text messages over this period (58 per cent vs. 52 per cent).

Among sectors, audiences displayed a very high level of trust for advertisements of educational institutions at 82 per cent. This is possibly because culturally, Indians have a strong belief in education as a means to secure their future. Ironically, ASCI finds that a significant portion of misleading ads come from the education sector. It therefore has a high focus on education sector advertising.

“ASCI’s job of monitoring the education sector is even more crucial, given these findings. In India, the poorest of people prioritise education spends over other necessities. Most educational institutions promise job guarantees or make false claims of being the number one or guaranteeing 100 per cent placement without any objective data or evidence. We are doing our best to make sure that such false advertising is removed from the market,” said ASCI secretary general Manisha Kapoor.

Home care products such as detergents, mosquito repellents etc as a sector also enjoys relatively higher trust levels. However, real estate advertisements were amongst the least trusted by consumers.

When it comes to taking action when they see a misleading or offensive advertisement, about a third of consumers are likely to discuss this with their family/friends, another third take some action by posting it on social media, or reporting the same. However, almost 30 per cent of consumers do not take any action. This, too, is a major focus area of ASCI. It has used every tool available to make it easy for consumers to point out misleading claims in advertisements. Consumers can lodge complaints on its website (, or via email ( Consumers can also send their complaints via WhatsApp (7710012345).

According to ISA chairman Sunil Kataria said, “Brands are built on the back of long term communication with consumers and audiences. It is in the advertisers’ own self-interest to make sure that all communication is honest and truthful, so consumers can trust advertising messages, and thereby, brands. This study helps advertisers, agencies, media owners and planners understand what works well and introspect on what needs improvement.”

Below is the report.


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