Insights Advertising Association reports on research showing that public trust in UK advertising has improved


The research was undertaken by the UK advertising’s thinktank, Credos, who originally undertook research on public trust in advertising in 2018. Credos has revisited the 2018 research in a new study: “Rebuilding Public Trust in UK Advertising”, which shows that public trust in UK advertising has improved in recent years, increasing 25% since its 2015 low point, in line with other industries monitored. The Advertising Association says that significantly, this research and other studies have also identified that an increase in the public’s knowledge of advertising’s broad-based regulatory system, the Advertising Standards Authority, is an impactful and effective way for the industry to improve trust going forwards.

The Credos research has also interrogated the positive and negative drivers which most affect public trust, showing that while bombardment remains the biggest driver of distrust, this has diminished slightly since 2018. The most significant driver of trust remains engaging and enjoyable creativity, which has increased since 2018.

The research shows:

  • the public continues to respond best to high quality advertising that entertains and engages; research showed that quality of advertising is the most important positive driver of public trust with an importance score of 32/100;
  • the social contribution of advertising (as examined in Credos’ Advertising Pays 8 report) was the second most significant driver of trust with an importance score of 10/100; the industry’s work during the pandemic to promote health messages was cited as an important factor, as was increased diversity of representation in advertising’s work; Credos’ report cites the impact of a positive social contribution as an opportunity for the industry to do more on big issues, such as climate change;
  • increased concerns about the boundaries of advertising in our lives, with bombardment seen as the most important driver of the public’s distrust in advertising (19/100);
  • the significance of misleading and invasive advertising techniques (including a growing experience of scams or fraudulent communications) as a driver of distrust increased more than any other driver between 2018 and 2021, mostly driven by younger consumers, for whom this is now the number one driver of negative perceptions towards advertising; and
  • those who are the least trusting of advertising believe there are not enough regulations; however, there is an opportunity to address this by increasing the public’s awareness of the ASA and its effective regulation of legitimate advertising, including online.

To read the Advertising Association’s report in full, click here.