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A new survey has found that the vast majority of British consumers (71%) want advertisers to take misinformation more seriously. Conducted by digital brand management platform Yext, the study showed just 41% of people trust brands, with 45% saying that all brands struggle to communicate correct information online.
 

A misinformation problem

  • The report draws on data gathered by Censuswide via an online questionnaire answered in August by 6,000 EU consumers drawn equally from the UK, France and Germany.

  • The struggle to present current and reliable information has become more acute since the pandemic, with scams, conspiracy theories and fake news proliferating amid the chaos.

  • These factors pushed 87% of people in the UK into believing misinformation is a problem, with 57% fearing the situation will only get worse.

  • 55% of Britons express greater concern now around the proliferation of misinformation than they did pre-pandemic.

  • This has served to exacerbate a trust crisis in the UK ad industry, prompting calls for the ad and media sectors to collaborate more closely to rebuild public trust.

  • Public perceptions of advertising as repetitive, obtrusive and unscrupulous has sent sentiment to new depths, leaving industry bodies such as the Advertising Association scrabbling to respond.

 

How is this impacting brands?

  • Souring sentiment has already impacted how people engage with brands, with burned Britons wasting £2.1bn on products and services due to misinformation in the past 12 months.

  • Such experiences translate to just 41% trusting brands and a further 45% in agreement that brands have a misinformation problem.

  • Compounding these woes, the questionnaire established that 42% would blame the brand itself for inaccurate information gleaned from a search engine, with just 20% blaming the search tool and 10% pointing the finger at their web browser.

  • Faced with such minefields, the public are increasingly adopting a proactive stance and 64% are consulting secondary sources and 59% actively fact-checking statements by brands and businesses.

  • This task is made harder by the sheer volume of publicly available information, with 47% overwhelmed by the amount of data they have at their fingertips.

  • Misinformation is directly conflated with trust in the minds of 63% of consumers, with 71% making purchase decisions only from trusted sources.

  • Jon Buss, managing director for EMEA at Yext, commented: “Thanks to the proliferation of fake news and outdated information online, the public have become more sceptical of information than ever before; and this is creating a culture of mistrust which businesses have to react to.” 

  • In a call to action, Buss continued: “The inability to find answers to their questions is making consumers take their business elsewhere. The first step for every brand now must be to fight for their facts, wherever they are.”