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Earned Advertising Remains Most Credible Among Hong Kong Consumers

4 minute read | November 2015

Trust in Traditional Offline Ad Formats is Still Strong

HONG KONG, 18 November 2015 – The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust, according to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report. Eighty-two percent of online respondents in Hong Kong say they trust the recommendations of friends and family, a decline of one percentage point from 2013 (83%).

Sixty percent of the survey respondents indicate that they trust consumer opinions posted online, which rates second in 2015, up three percentage points from 2013. Owned online channels are also among the most trusted advertising formats. Trust in advertising on branded websites remained unchanged at 53% in 2015, the third-most-trusted format. In addition, nearly half of the Hong Kong respondents (48%) trust emails they signed up for, up two percentage points from 2013.

“There isn’t one simple rule for maximizing advertising effectiveness in a saturated market like Hong Kong,” said Irene Chen, vice president, Media, Taiwan & Hong Kong. “As consumers are in control of how they consume content and interact with brands, now more than ever, understanding ad resonance across screens is the only way to successfully drive memorability and brand lift today.”

Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries to gauge consumer sentiment in 19 forms of paid, earned and owned advertising mediums. The results identify the ad formats resonating most strongly with consumers and those that have room to grow.


Despite continued media fragmentation, the proliferation of online formats has not eroded trust in traditional (offline) paid channels. TV, newspapers and magazines remain trusted advertising formats. More than two-out-of-five Hong Kong respondents say they completely or somewhat trust those ads on TV and newspapers (both 46%), which went up two and one percentage points, respectively, from two years ago. Slightly fewer trust ads in magazines (41%), which fell one percentage point from 2013.

“In fact, for many traditional paid channels, self-reported action actually exceeds trust,” said Chen. “For instance, self-reported action exceeds trust by more than double digits for TV ads (46% trust 72% take action). While digital ads can offer considerable benefits—such as precision-focused campaigns, in-flight adjustments and more creative options—moving from TV to an all-display digital plan is a bold move for any marketer. Consider a mix of both offline and online channels for the best ROI.”


Again, word-of-mouth formats, such as recommendations from family and friends and consumer opinions posted online, prompted the highest levels of action, among 88% and 74% of respondents, respectively. Roughly two-thirds of respondents indicated that they take action at least some of the time based on ads in TV (72%), branded websites (70%), signed up emails (69%), social networks banners (65%), ads served in search engine results (62%), ads in magazines (66%) and brand sponsorships (62%).

The take-action scores for most ad formats exceeded the trust score, suggesting that consumers may be willing to check out a product even if they did not find the ad completely credible. In a broader sense, the overall scores demonstrate that ads are prompting a reaction in consumers.


In terms of advertising messages, real-life situations (43%), health-themed (36%) and value-oriented (34%) messages resonated most with Hong Kong consumers. On the contrary, half of the respondents in China agreed that health-themed resonated most, followed by real-life situations (43%) and family-oriented (34%).

“Best-in-class ads share several characteristics; they are relatable, follow an upbeat and simple storyline, use novel and striking imagery and make an emotional connection,” said Chen. “However, there is no “one-size-fits all” formula. What’s effective in one market will not necessarily work well in others. A deep understanding of local preferences is vital. After all, capturing attention, conversion to long-term memory and emotional engagement are all equally important. Reaching the right audience, having the message resonate positively and driving the desired customer reaction is required for advertising success—no matter the medium.”

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising was conducted between February 23 and March 13, 2015, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

About Nielsen

Nielsen N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement, as well as analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit