There has been a few reports that caught my attention over the summer. All have to do with trust online and the impact of social media on travel sites.
One of them was the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, which includes an interesting measure of the forms of advertising most trusted by consumers.
90% trust recommendations from people they directly know, 70% trust consumer opinions online and brands. 69% trust editorial content.
Below is the full diagram and the press release can be found here.
"Recommendations from people known" stands very much alone at the top.
Not so surprising. We are far more inclined to listen to these than to those we don't. People we know have a great advantage as information providers. We are instantly able to filter what they say, because we know their taste. We know when to trust their judgment and when to discard their recommendations.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that the information delivered by them is better. I'm not saying recommendations from our social graph (people we know) aren't good, but they are usually too few to be really useful. A few simple reasons for this.
* We need information from people with taste somewhat similar to ours. After all, would you trust your grand parents recommendations to go clubbing?.
* We need a few advices to make an opinion. How likely is it that we know someone with taste similar to ours who's been where we want to go for holiday or more simply diner? The answer is not very likely.
An interesting complement to the Nielsen analysis would be to know the relative usage of these various forms of advertising. The top category is probably very small because of the reasons I've listed above.
And so we have to fall back on editorial content and consumers opinions, which are hard to trust, because we don't know the people who wrote them. While we may develop some level of trust with editorial content (as we get used to read the same person's article and develop what I would call a taste filter), we can't really do this with consumer opinions.
That's of course an area where we are very involved at LikeCube, We're changing the way people perceive User Generated Content (UGC) and we greatly enhance its value, quite a deal for web sites that have invested so much in UGC but are still struggling to see real value out of it.
In addition to providing really accurate personalized recommendations (some users have even qualified them as "quite spooky" in accuracy), our solution helps filter consumers opinions and extract the ones that are from people closest to us in terms of taste.
As a result, our solution can personalize each product page (think of a hotel or a restaurant review page) with reviews from our taste neighbors, reviews we can trust.
This solves a big issue for consumers when they read opinions ("Should I trust this person?") and I wouldn't be surprised if over time the 70% from the Nielsen report for "Opinion" moves toward the 90% from people we know, if not beyond.