Consumers prefer Tiktok as a digital advertising platform

Consumers perceive advertising on offline channels as higher quality, more trustworthy and less intrusive - however, users do respond positively to individual online platforms.


Kantar publishes the world's first "Global Ad Equity Ranking". The ranking measures consumer attitudes to advertising in various environments and is published as part of the "Media Reactions" study. The ranking is led by TikTok - the social media platform that is currently at the center of global attention.

The Media Reactions study surveyed 4,000 consumers and over 700 senior marketers. It provides an "ad equity" metric* for selected media channels as well as social media and content-focused media brands, such as Netflix or Spotify. Detailed analytics also enable advertisers to understand the impact of different platforms on their advertising and their brands.

The gap between online and offline

Consumers perceive advertising on offline channels to be of higher quality, more trustworthy and less intrusive - however, users do respond positively to individual online platforms. Overall, consumers prefer advertising on offline channels because they tend to view them as higher quality, more trustworthy, less intrusive and less overly targeted compared to online channels. Consumers indicated a more positive attitude toward advertising on the following media channels:

Table 1: Consumers' preferred advertising channels worldwide

Consumers' preferred advertising channels worldwide Global Ad Equity Ranking 2020
Advertising channel Ad Equity Index
Cinema advertising +33
Sponsored events +31
Advertisements in magazines +26
Digital outdoor advertising +25
Newspaper ads +23
SOURCE: Kantar
  • Cinema advertising tops the list in four of the seven countries surveyed (Australia, Germany, the UK and the USA). In Brazil and China, sponsored events top the list. Print media and digital out-of-home ads also rank highly with consumers.
  • While online formats are generally less popular than offline formats, consumer attitudes toward branded influencer content, podcast ads and streaming TV advertising are generally more positive.
  • Across all formats, consumers are most frequently exposed to advertising on TV and video platforms. Across the variety of environments and formats measured, some conflicting views are evident among consumers. The study reveals that advertising in some environments is seen as fun, high-quality, relevant and trustworthy, while other environments are disliked for oversaturation and repetition.
  • Despite consumer preference for offline ads, the marketing community's focus remains on digital engagement. Marketers' platform priorities are therefore at odds with consumer preferences. The industry's preferred ad platforms are (in order) online video ads, TV ads, social media newsfeed ads, streaming TV ads, and social media stories.


Global ranking of digital platforms 

Across a selection of global digital platforms, Kantar also measured consumers' views of advertising on the social/content platforms they use. Based on eleven variables, TikTok achieved the highest global ad equity rank. The top five digital media for advertising from a consumer perspective are:


Consumers' preferred digital advertising platforms worldwide:

  1. TikTok
  2. Instagram
  3. Snapchat
  4. Google
  5. Twitter

In the digital environment, consumers and advertisers agree on established digital platforms such as Google, Instagram and Twitter. However, consumers are generally more positive about advertising on newer platforms such as TikTok, while advertisers prefer more established brands such as YouTube.

In contrast to the overall channel rankings, ad equity is generally higher for global digital media brands than for local (offline) media brands. It seems that the "general weaknesses" of online ads are less problematic for most of the premium digital environments in our study.


Outlook: Advertising Spending 

During the COVID 19 pandemic, 60 percent of companies reported reducing their marketing spend - 30 percent significantly**. The pandemic has led to a greater focus on brand purpose and digital transformation. Possibly as a consequence, marketers are now evaluating campaign appropriateness and advertising receptivity over ROI and cost considerations when making media budget decisions.

The spending shifts are largely in line with the changing media habits of consumers, who turned more to online during the pandemic than before. Budget/resource allocations to digital channels have increased as a result of COVID-19. Investments in offline media have decreased in response to the lockdowns in most countries.

The shifts of 2020 are likely to accelerate further in 2021, especially for online video. Global platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Google will certainly benefit most from this. Television is expected to recover along with digital outdoor advertising. For most other offline media, the challenges of 2020 are likely to continue into 2021.

Figure 1: Planned changes in budget/resource allocation (change in planned net increase).

"Understanding where great advertising can best flourish is becoming increasingly important," commented Duncan Southgate, Global Brand Director, Media at Kantar. "Our research shows that consumers are differently receptive to advertising across different media channels, platforms and formats. The rush to digital channels is understandable given the targeting and measurement opportunities, but oversaturation, repetition and excessive targeting in some environments can make this approach counterproductive. Advertisers and agencies need to develop a more quantifiable understanding of "medium as message" and the impact of their chosen media channels and platforms on their brand objectives. Media platforms need to manage the value of their advertising offering with both consumers and marketers in mind. That means they must regularly offer innovative ad formats to meet the needs of advertisers - while entertaining consumers and securing their attention."

About the study

Kantar has been talking to consumers and advertising professionals about their experiences and perceptions of the media for many years. This year, the consumer and media studies have been combined to provide a complete overview of the current media landscape and how to navigate it. Beyond the publicly available materials, global and country-specific data files and reports are available with much more detail.

Consumer survey. A 15-minute online survey was conducted among consumers aged 16 to 65. The survey included 500 interviews each in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, the UK and 1000 in the USA.

Survey among marketers. 733 senior marketers (advertisers, agencies and media companies) responded to a 15-minute online survey.


*The Media Reactions global ad equity measure combines consumer responses to an assessment of overall ad receptivity along with ten diagnostic attitude metrics for advertising. It compares the number of people who have a positive attitude toward advertising in a media channel or brand with the number of people who have a negative attitude toward it. This produces a "net promoter" score for media properties.

** Global Business Compass - a study of 4500 corporate clients on the impact of the pandemic on the business landscape.

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