When we think about legal advertising and the forms that are the most intrusive, annoying, frustrating …. well you get it, you probably thought mostly like me. TV, RADIO, BILLBOARDS. The timeless, rather archaic forms that probably won’t be going anywhere anytime soon because they still work for branding and still generate leads (for now). Sometimes it’s good to confirm our suspicions, and in this case, I’m glad I did. I’ve been surveying people for the past two years, and my most recent 2020 survey shows that the kind of legal advertising that people find the least trustworthy goes to Facebook, not TV or radio.

Recently, I decided to take a new poll of 515 people, asking them what source of advertising people found to be the most untrustworthy. One source is particular really stood out. The results broke down this way:

2020 Advertising Survey:

  • Facebook — 213 (42.6%)
  • Television – 104 (20.8%)
  • Billboards — 94 (18.8%)
  • Websites — 51 (10.2%)
  • Radio — 21 (2.2%)

Interestingly, social media got 17 votes and internet ads got 5, or less than 1% of the total. Facebook stood out, though, as an untrustworthy source for legal advertising.

So I took the poll a step further and decided to ask people what they viewed as trustworthy sources. The results should be encouraging if you’ve invested a lot in your website or have believed in the effectiveness of television ads. The most trustworthy sources were:

  • Website — 167 (33.4%)
  • TV — 153 (30.6%)
  • Radio — 54 (10.8%)
  • Billboards — 46 (9.2%)
  • Facebook — 29 (5.8%)

Once again, Facebook was the low-hanging fruit, although the site did get more trustworthy votes than newspapers (15 votes) or social media in general (7).

I did a similar poll two years ago when I surveyed 457 people in June 2018 asking, “Which form of legal advertising bothers you the most,” and was surprised by the results. They were:

2018 Advertising Survey:

  • Television — 169 (36.98%)
  • Facebook — 109 (23.85%)
  • Radio — 82 (17.94%)
  • Billboards — 38 (8.32%)

Some others that came in were:

  • YouTube Preroll ads 12
  • General display marketing on websites (or possible remarketing) 8
  • Emails 7

And yes, for legal websites, people still hate the popups on them and when videos autoplay!

Other information to know is that the average age of the TV-haters was 36.27 while Facebook was 33.56. Facebook had an almost even split of men and women. TV was much more lopsided with about 2/3rds male and 1/3 female.

So for two straight years, my own research through these surveys shows that Facebook may be the most questionable option for your advertising.

Facebook Ads Found to be More Annoying in 2019 than in 2018

Now at this point, being that I forgot I had started this blog almost two years ago, I went through a second survey in the spring of 2019 of roughly 400 people asking the same question: “What form of advertising is just really annoying to you in the legal space?” This time around, we were met with the following:

2019 Advertising Survey:

  • Television — 21.9%
  • Facebook — 48.7%
  • Radio — 4.9%
  • Billboard — 14.7%

What could have changed so much in recent years for Facebook to make such a staggering leap in annoyance to people?  For starters, I can tell you firsthand that lawyers have been moving to Facebook much more for advertising as they’re disenfranchised with expensive AdWords accounts, SEO campaigns that don’t move the needle, and the trends they’re hearing over and over about social media taking over how much time consumers spend online. In addition to that, retargeting and geofencing campaigns often times live and breath solely on social media in 2019 compared to 2018.

Annoying doesn’t translate to ineffective, but it could translate to brand awareness you may not be looking for. What are some other pieces of information we can glean from this campaign, being that we have ages and genders of the participants as well?

  • 30 and below will find Facebook by far most annoying for legal advertisement, while 50 and above will believe TV to be the highest nuisance.
  • On average, women will find Facebook and Billboards more of an annoyance, whereas men will find TV more annoying.

Let’s move away from the negativity for a bit; What are some of the most trustworthy forms of getting your name out there then? We also asked this question early in 2019, and here were those results a year ago:

2019 Survey:

  • Television- 28.9%
  • Facebook- 9.5%
  • Radio- 14.1%
  • Billboard- 5.6%
  • Website – 41.4%

The television data is interesting since 21.9% said it was an annoyance, but you still have the “rockstar” effect proving that placement on high-end media such as TV does bring you a certain level of prominence. Just like being featured on a radio spot or a radio show, there’s a certain level of notoriety that gets perceived while being featured on these media channels.

How a Website Builds Trust with Potential Clients

As the most recent survey shows, the most trusted source is still your website. At the end of the day, a website is going to be a premier way to build trust with your potential client because of the factors we so often talk about on our blog:

  • Being able to write a profound and compelling About You and About the Firm
  • Featuring case results, verdicts, and settlements
  • Featuring awards, recognitions, achievements, and accolades
  • Featuring reviews and testimonials
  • Firm overview videos
  • Great content on subject matter via pages and blogs
  • Much more …

So, what are our takeaways from this kind of data? The first is that Facebook advertising for lawyers is getting out of control, and isn’t seen as being particularly trustworthy.  Since Facebook advertising doesn’t really hone in on people that actually may need a lawyer (push instead of pull campaigns, blanketing basically everyone), people can feel bombarded by all sorts of unnecessary legal ads, and it’s easier for lawyers since budgets for Facebook — especially when they’re used to paying for Google Adwords — are very bloated. As the Facebook user gets older, they may get hit by all sorts of ads ranging from class actions against pharma or employers to medical malpractice and everything in between.

Does that mean that lawyers may have “missed the boat” when it comes to Facebook because it’s quickly become vilified as such an annoyance for ads? I’d say sort of – these numbers don’t bode too well for the future of broad, blanketed ads. I said this back in June 2018, and the way things are moving now, you can still find success on Facebook, but expect to spend more than anticipated in both resources and time.

Lawyers seeking targeted and thoughtful advertising may want to look into paid leads with a digital marketing agency that can keep track of ad performance and metrics. At Market My Market, our law firm marketing experts know you have your eye on your ad budget and strive to attract qualified leads through the method that is most sensible for your firm. Contact us for a free marketing consultation.