SINGAPORE: Word of mouth remains the biggest influence on consumers in South East Asia but online advertising has gained greater credibility over the past six years, a new survey has revealed.

Nielsen's Global Survey of Trust in Advertising polled more than 29,000 online respondents in 58 countries to measure consumer sentiment on 19 forms of paid, earned and owned advertising formats. This revealed that, since the previous edition of the survey in 2007, online advertising in its various forms had seen the greatest increase in trust levels among consumers in region.

Sixty-eight per cent of Indonesian consumers, for example, said they trusted emails they had signed up for. This was 11 points higher than the global average and represented a 16 point rise on the 2007 survey.

Significant uplifts in trust for consumer-consented emails were also recorded in Malaysia, up 11 points to 61%, and Singapore, up nine points to 62%. The Philippines bucked this particular trend, dropping one point, although the resulting figure of 66% was still well above the global average.

Online banner ads also recorded a positive shift in trust levels across all South East Asian markets. Indonesia was up seven points to 48%, Thailand up 15 points to 47%, the Philippines up four points to 46% and Malaysia up 20 points to 44%.

Further, the study showed an above average level of trust in search engine results in many countries. More than half of consumers in Indonesia (57%), the Philippines (57%), Thailand (56%) and Malaysia (52%) trusted such ads, compared to the global average of 48%.

Online video ads were similarly trusted by around half of consumers in Indonesia (52%), the Philippines (51%), Thailand (51%) and Malaysia (50%).

David Webb, managing director of Advertising Solutions at Nielsen, noted that advertisers were increasingly confident in the use of online channels and that adspend there was growing rapidly. "Strengthening trust amongst consumers will serve to further drive this growth," he observed.

The credibility of brand websites had also improved, with all markets save Singapore scoring well above the current global average of 69%. The biggest shift came in Thailand, where a 21 point rise meant 76% of consumers there now trusted brand websites.

Data sourced from Asian Media Journal; additional content by Warc staff