SYDNEY: Forgettable, can't be trusted and there's too much of it – Australians have a low opinion of advertising, according to a new report which highlights the need for the industry to adapt to changing circumstances.

The Eye on Australia study from Grey Group found that around three quarters of those surveyed felt there was too much advertising and that none stood out (79%), that most advertising was forgettable (78%) and couldn't be trusted (73%).

A similar proportion felt there were too many brands to choose from (75%) while around half (53%) said they weren't loyal to any brands.

"Technology has changed the way Australians consume media and run their lives," noted Danish Chan, national planning director at Grey Group Australia. "Continuously connected and always-on, Australians may be easier to reach but are tougher to influence."

The greatest influences on choice of products or brands were word of mouth (56%) and a good customer experience (37%).

Just seeing someone else buy or use a product or brand (26%) was more likely to sway consumers than TV advertising (20%), websites (15%), print advertising (11%) or online and social media advertising (both 6%).

Advertising can still be an "engine of influence", Chan stated, "but it needs to adapt".

As the report noted, the combined influence of WOM and "seeing someone use or buy" a brand "should have marketers re-examining the importance of advocacy in every category".

That informed the direction Grey advised marketers should take if they are to regain a more prominent position in consumers' decision-making process.

For example, storytelling is a recognised technique that builds consumer relationships, awareness and interest. This entails the creation and distribution of content about a brand but the report suggested that "story-making" – the process of making other people the storytellers around a brand – could be a better approach.

People don't talk about brands because they love those brands, it said; they talk about them because those brands say something about their own tastes and lifestyle.

Across all categories, "brand experience" far outweighed the influence of advertising campaigns, so a focus on the consumer is now more necessary than ever.

"Think of branding as service design," the report advised.

Data sourced from Grey Group, Ad News; additional content by Warc staff