Transparency & Advertising: How Trust is Built

By July 10, 2015 March 3rd, 2016 Inbound Marketing

Today, the ability of brands to communicate with their customers is vastly more efficient and effective than it ever has been, and so communication has taken on added meaning. A business that creates or provides helpful content through cross-channel marketing and works with its customers to solve their problems is an example of a business as an engaged resource.

This is especially true now that people care more about their experiences with a product more than its price. Applying more focus on communication and resourcefulness to content strategy is only becoming more important, because people don’t trust advertising nearly as much as they used to

Consumer Distrust

A consumer’s distrust of a brand or product doesn’t usually stem from any single event in time, but is rather an increased exposure to information. However, the variety of the information that can be found is what has been so significant.

For example, if there was a single publication stating that a company was acting unethically, the publication may be lying or have its facts mixed up, and some people would believe it and some wouldn’t. But if there were multiple publications and actual people on social media confirming the businesses’ unethical behavior, it would most likely be believed.

This type of behavior isn’t unheard of either. In fact, multiple businesses have engaged in unethical or minimally transparent practices and have suffered the consequences for it.

Creating a Positive from a Negative Experience

On the other side of this argument, it’s nearly impossible to operate a business without encountering mistakes. These problems could seem formidable, especially with the amount of publicity the smallest mistake could receive. However, there are businesses that have taken this concept and have reversed the effects of a problem to create a stronger sense of brand loyalty among its customers.

There is a case study highlighted by Business Insider that shows a good example this: Taco Bell responded to a lawsuit that claimed its seasoned beef only contained 35% beef. It immediately shared its recipe with a cross-channel marketing campaign focused primarily on social media, that promoted its “not-so-secret” recipe. With strong support from its customers, the lawsuit was dropped four months after it was announced.

Here, Taco Bell openly shared its recipe for the world to see, and they build a PR campaign around it to ensure that it was seen. This wasn’t a company scrambling to slant things to their perspective, they were open and transparent, and they spoke to people individually on social media to emphasize that. If a company wants people to believe something it says, it is wise to politely reach out to customers on an individual level rather than forcefully and obnoxiously.

Millennials & Advertising

Millennials have a problem with advertising—mostly that they don’t trust it. Whether they are jaded, educated, or simply experienced, they don’t believe what they hear on TV (or elsewhere), and many have stopped listening altogether. About 54% of Millennials don’t even have a TV service provider.

While this doesn’t make traditional advertising ineffective, the measure of success here looks drastically different than it has in years. It’s important to understand that this isn’t because of poor advertising or low-quality products, but rather because this form of directional advertising no longer carries the persuasive power it once did.

Merging Marketing Roles & Cross Channel Advertising

Social media and traditional advertising are very different in many ways, but in certain aspects, they play a very similar role. The main difference between social advertising and traditional ads is how specific they can be with the target audience, but the macro view of advertising is brand awareness, which is achieved through all forms of advertising.

Brand awareness comes together with how connected everything today is. By using cross-channel advertising, content is shared in nearly all forms of media on virtually any device: smartphones, tablets, TVs, desktop computers, and more. By understanding a more comprehensive view of media, consistency across all advertising and marketing campaigns now takes on added meaning.

The most successful advertisements today utilize and leverage cross-channel advertising to tell stories—stories that focus less on comparisons and sales pitches and more on relatable instances or aspects of a brand’s product or service. Developing advertising content this way allows brands maintain a consistent and non-intrusive presence in the mind of consumers.


Ultimately, all forms of advertising are working towards the same goal: to create a sense of trust between businesses and their potential customers. Achieving this without a consistent brand message and transparency is nearly impossible, especially since it is demanded by the newest and perhaps the most powerful generation of consumers.