NEW YORK: Advertisements are not trusted by half of Americans and only 3% completely trust them, although opinion varies depending on the age and educational background of respondents, a recent survey has found.

As reported by MarketingProfs, the marketing resources site, the poll of 987 US adults also found a majority (58%) wanted the requirements for proving claims in advertising to be strengthened.

Conducted by research firm YouGov, its "truth in advertising" survey established that levels of educational attainment strongly influenced responses.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans with postgraduate degrees said they don't trust advertising, which dropped to 44% of those with high school qualifications or none.

Nearly half (48%) of Americans aged 55+ agreed that advertising could be trusted, a proportion exactly matched by 18-34 year olds, but the middle generation was more trusting – 58% of 35-54 year olds were more likely to trust ads.

Ads for diet products, financial services, pharmaceuticals, cars and cosmetics made up the five categories regarded as the least trustworthy while ads for clothing stores, household electronics and casual dining restaurants (as opposed to fast food chains) emerged as the most trusted.

Opinion was relatively balanced between the sexes, but men were particularly suspicious of ads for financial services – 31% of men thought them to be untrustworthy compared with 22% of women.

Also of note for marketers, the study revealed that many industry tactics, such as comparative advertising or scientific endorsements, appeared to have little impact or even made respondents more suspicious.

Although 15% said they were more likely to believe the claims made by brands that compare themselves with a named competitor, 26% did not.

Similarly, 16% said they were more likely to believe an ad that included testimonials from scientists or other experts, but 29% said they were less likely to believe in them.

However, ads that mentioned awards won by a product or service fared better with 20% saying they were more likely to be believed against 22% who disagreed.

Data sourced from MarketingProfs, YouGov; additional content by Warc staff