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Banks That Advertise Earn More Trust

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CNBC.com

People are more likely to trust their financial company if they advertise; they trust their bank or investment firm less if they don't. The head of Nielsen IAG's Financial group summed up the results of their latest study: "'Out of sight' can mean 'out of business."

Apparently consumers don't see advertising as an unnecessary expenditure from their financial institutions in this recession. They want that reassurance from Ameritrade, Bank of America, and Allstate on their TV. But since ad spending has dropped off by nearly 20 percent in certain sectors, this fact that people need ads in order to trust their bank, means financial institutions are unlikely to regain consumers trust anytime soon.

Nielsen's study finds that 55 percent of respondents who said they'd seen more advertising for their financial institution said they have "complete confidence" in their bank, insurance company or investment firm's financial health. Of the group that's seen more advertising, only 18 percent had "little or no confidence in the company." On the other hand, of those who saw less advertising for their firm, 45 percent said they had "little or no confidence" in their company. the EVP of Nielsen IAG Financial says "'Out of sight' can mean 'out of business,'"

This puts financial companies in a tough spot -- they have less money to spend on advertising (and everything else). But advertising seems to be more important to consumers than ever. And isn't there some risk banks will look wasteful or extravagant if they pay for fancy ad campaigns? (General Motors pulled out of the Super Bowl because it just couldn't get away with underwriting such an expensive ad campaign.)

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The study speaks to the theory that smart consumer companies can actually grow market share through the recession, just like Procter & Gamble grew its market share during the Depression. To generate that crucial consumer confidence companies need to strike the right tone with their ads, which the financial firms seem to be doing. At least this study is good news for one industry -- advertising -- perhaps the suffering ad industry will get a boost as marketers realize just how important their ad spend actually is.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com