From word-of-mouth recommendations to vlogs, here are the 4 most-important things you need to know about the ways consumers discover new brands.

1. Traditional Recommendations Still Trump Digital

Despite digital consumers being able to access a wealth of online advice at the click of a button, digital advice remains less effective than known and trusted sources when it comes to finding new brands.

1 in 3 discover brands through recommendations from friends and family.

Compare that to the likes of consumer review sites (26%) or personalized recommendations (15%) and it’s clear that real life trumps digital advocacy.

Trusted recommendations from friends and family will remain a natural and important go-to point for finding out new brands or products for some time.

2. Ad-Blocking Doesn’t Mean Zero Ad Exposure

Considering they spend a significant 7.4 hours online each day, it’s easy to see why 16-24s are ahead for discovering brands from online ads – some 41% of this age group say they find new brands this way, compared to just 31% of 55-64s.

This may come as a surprise considering that today’s teens and twenty-somethings are the biggest users of ad-blockers.

What’s important to note though is that ad-blocking doesn’t necessarily entail zero exposure to online ads. Ad-blocking software is not yet widely available across all devices and is yet to work inside apps.

And with ad-blocking software “white-listing” certain ads and native advertising not feeling the effects, online ads are likely to remain an important way of finding new brands – even in the face of ad-blockers becoming more widespread.

3. Vlogs Aren’t Proper Brand Advisement Channels Yet

Among the 20 or so brand discovery sources tracked by GWI, vlogs emerge as the least effective channel. That said, they are subject to some fairly impressive age-based trends. Teens (16-19s) in particular are the leaders:

Some 13% say they discover brands through vlogs, and this reaches as high as 27% among teens in LatAm.

Although an attractive route to teens, compare the numbers who regularly watch vlogs with those who discover brands this way and it’s clear that most vlog watchers see these as channels of entertainment and advice rather than a place to discover brands.

Clearly, vlogs are yet to reach their full potential as brand advertising platforms.

4. Social Is The Way Forward

Advertising on social media (where ad-blockers are ineffective) is an essential for most brands. Embedding ads into social networks is often considered less intrusive than other forms of advertising, and sponsored posts have already proven to be an effective advertising channel – it’s some 16% of social networkers who are clicking on these posts each month.

What’s more, with as many as 1 in 3 internet users following their favorite brands on social networks, it’s not surprising to see recommendations on brand’s social network pages being an effective way to build brand awareness and credibility.

Around 1 in 4 discover brands through these reviews/recommendations – something that is particularly pronounced among certain networkers like Instagrammers (37%) and Pinterest users (33%).


Written by

Katie is a Strategic Insights Manager at GWI. Moving to the company 4 years ago, Katie heads up the Strategic Insights team, overseeing the production of bespoke assets for clients. Katie also writes on GWI's blog, with a particular interest in social media and marketing.

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