Consumer trust in websites is the most important factor in ensuring businesses remain successful. There are many factors that can affect consumer trust, with many of them being out of the control of most standard websites. But what are these issues and how do they erode trust for the consumer?
Auto Redirect Ads
One obstacle to trust in online advertising comes from the blight of ads that forcibly redirect you elsewhere. Auto redirect ads are ads that pop up through a bad ad slot and cover most of the screen of the publisher’s site (or more on mobile). They immediately force the site visitor to another site, usually that of an ad.
Originally annoying to ad publishers and site visitors alike, in 2018 auto redirects became more sinister. A series of high-profile attacks – increasing through 2020 – means that people are sensitive to the potentially damaging aspects of the attacks. Every click could potentially lead to viruses, fraud, or cybercrime. Sites known for having many auto-redirect ads could then be boycotted by consumers or avoided – a loss of trust in the business that may not actually have done anything wrong.
The issue erodes trust in ads because consumers may grow confused as to which ads are genuine and which may be potentially harmful. Indeed, even the most reliable businesses could have ads derailed through the auto redirects, damaging the efficacy of genuine ads on consumers.
Auto redirects also mean that the consumer flicks away from the site they were attempting to go to. This represents a potential loss of sales for businesses that have legitimate ads on the publisher’s site. It also means that the consumer is unlikely to go back – what if they experience another auto-redirect?
Social Media Ads
Social media has been bombarded by ads in recent years as businesses and ad platforms realized how much money could be made from eager consumers who spent their time scrolling. As such, people have become suspicious of which are genuine.
Wish, for example, is a huge advertiser on Facebook. It suggests zany and interesting products for people to buy. The running joke however is that the products never end up looking as they should do. While many understand this is the nature of Wish – and many buy products just to see how Wish has wrongly advertised them – in others it has sparked a general mistrust of all social media ads.
It’s not just ad spots on social media that lose trust for consumers. People attempting to be influencers can sometimes veer towards posting something they don’t believe in for the money. The worst part is that many times, people can see through this and it works to erode the trust for the concept of influencers in the first place.
For instance, viral tweets will often have a link below them, that takes readers to a product-purchase page. That link has usually been paid for. Most people know that the poster’s only aim is to gain views on their tweets and the company has decided to take advantage of these views to flog the product. But this could actually make people feel that every product link they see online isn’t genuine.
Sometimes consumers could be faced with ads that are completely fake. Malicious ads have often been easy to spot. They promise get-rich-quick schemes, singles in your area, and so on. Like the email asking for help unlocking funds for a foreign royal, the early fake ads were easy to spot. But malicious advertisers have grown savvy to what consumers might consider being fake, so have found some trust signals of their own to use.
In the UK, both TV presenter Eammon Holmes and money expert Martin Lewis have been the source of fake ads. The latter cultivated such a strong following as a financial guru that many people clicked through the ads that purported to have his endorsement. Binary trading, energy suppliers, and PPI ads have all featured Martin Lewis – and many people got in contact to tell him that they followed through with the scam because of the trust imbued by his presence.
Lewis himself claimed how upsetting this was. He had worked hard to cultivate a trustworthy presence to then have it destroyed through fake ads. As a result, he decided to attempt to do something about fake ads in the future.
Consumer trust is hard to gain but easy to lose. There are many reasons why consumers could fall out of favor with brands, businesses, or media publishers based on what they see online. This could be due to auto-redirect ads that derail the trust in the online advertising process. Or the consumer could lose trust in social media advertising – both through links and by influencers. Or the consumer could be sucked into a fake ad by trusting some element of it. Ultimately, consumer trust is one of the most important strengths a business should work to hold onto.