Online Reviews and Trust

Online reviews and trust

A survey conducted in 2011 by Nielsen shows very interesting findings regarding trust and reputation in the digital world.  The survey was conducted between August 31 and September 16, 2011 and polled more than 28,000 online consumers in 56 countries throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America.  The results of the study were released in April 2012.

The survey reveals that online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising with 70% of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust them, an increase of 15% in 4 years.  While 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

Overall, the survey shows that consumers around the world continue to see recommendations from friends and online consumer opinions as by far the most credible.

This level of trust in friends and online consumer opinions doesn’t come as a surprise.  It is the logical result of the good reputation that any person tends to have among his friends and the natural trust that online consumers place in authoritative reviewers and aggregated ratings (the so-called wisdom of crowds).  Both friends and online authoritative and aggregated opinions can be viewed as reliable sources.  Recommendations from reliable sources are of primary importance, they help human brain in making decisions very quickly because they have a big impact on trust inference.

In this context, we do strongly believe that the digital world should move towards the establishment of formalized hierarchies of reviewers that are topic-related, experience and/or expertise-oriented and trust-based.  Those hierarchies will significantly reinforce, for the better, online users’ reliance on online reviews and recommendations.

Rafik Hanibeche & Adel Amri (Trustiser Founders)