LONDON: Almost three quarters of Britons now associate advertising with fake news, compared to just over half of their mainland European or American counterparts, new figures show.

The study – commissioned by Rakuten Marketing – surveyed over 2500 global consumers, revealing that Britons are far more likely to associate ads with untruths (71%) whereas just 54% of French and Germans, and 58% of Americans make the same association.

Despite British scepticism, more Americans (43%) reported a bad experience with an online ad, in contrast to 25% of UK consumers. But the study hints at the extent of the damage caused by poor advertising practices, as 45% of consumers say they will abandon a site following a poor experience; a further 19% will avoid brands they associate with bad practice.

The findings illuminate crucial consumer sentiments for both brands and publishers, as well as the difficult predicament of the free web.

"Access to free content online is one of the most valuable propositions the internet offers, but the advertising that funds it needs to get better," said Tony Zito, CEO of Rakuten Marketing.

In addition, poor experiences are contributing to the much-hyped rise of ad-blocking software, as almost a third (32%) of respondents reported using an ad blocker. But 46% of consumers also said they proactively opt out of ads in other ways.

Not all ads draw negative reactions, however. Globally, 70% of consumers said they thought advertising was OK when it was useful to them; 65% agreed that advertising can be valuable when it aligns with their interests and is integrated into content seamlessly.

The climate of distrust continues into news content, and how people discover it. Yesterday, a report from KPMG uncovered rising public concern at the rise of fake news.

The Media Tracker report recommended that media organisations do more to prioritise trust in their readers. David Elms, UK head of media at KPMG observed that the line between fact and opinion was blurring.

"Reputable sources are displayed side-by-side with opinions and sensationalism and, increasingly, it is algorithms, not journalists, which decide which content we see first, or at all," Elms added.

Data sourced from Rakuten Marketing, The Drum, KPMG; additional content by WARC staff.