Trust me...I'm an influencer
We hope you can trust your good buddies at Mediatel when we write this: but new research has found that the vast majority of internet users lack any confidence in what they see and read online.
Globally, most people think information on social media is suspect (fair enough), but the more eye-opening stat given everyone is hurling buckets of money at them is that only 4% of users trust the bulk of information coming from so-called influencers.
The UM research, carried out by surveying 56,000 active internet users in 81 countries, found that even governments - governments! - were seen as more trustworthy.
As Bountiful Cow's co-founder Graeme Douglas writes in this nicely timed and rather punchy op-ed, "influencer marketing has been over-hyped, is still largely unproven, and those brands sinking significant marketing budgets into tie-ups with the latest Instagram stars could be heading for a fall."
Trust at a premium
The UM research also looks at trust in online information more generally, and the findings again paint a bleak picture while echoing similar studies we've reported on this year that should make any advertiser worry.
For instance, more than half of the UK believes most of the news they see online is fake; while only 44% now say they're influenced by opinions shared online, compared to 46% in 2017.
47%, both globally and in the UK, also say they have less faith in experts and institutions than they used to.
Liz Haas, head of client insight EMEA at UM, says the research highlights how headlines over the past two years have made people more aware of issues surrounding credibility and transparency on the internet.
"This is particularly the case with social media - scandals like Cambridge Analytica have had a huge impact on the extent to which people question what they see and hear online," she says.
GDPR is working towards rebuilding that trust, as is the ASA by cracking down on declarations of paid-for content. But brands will also have a key role to play over the coming years.
"It's clear that trust is fast becoming the currency of the new internet, and brands able to demonstrate that they're transparent and responsible in the moments that matter are going to be best placed to succeed," Haas says.
When something is in short supply its value typically goes up, and trust is no exception. It should sit at the heart of all smart strategies.