Trusted branded content is a revenue win for media companies, advertisers

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


Greeting from London as usual. Now we are moving towards the final quarter of 2022, I hope your summer was good and you are ready to face our industry challenges in the latter part of the year. 

In this newsletter, I will tackle a couple of the issues/interest areas that keep cropping up in my inbox from INMA members, that is, the areas of branded content and trust. 

Two areas that go hand in hand — as when we get branded content right, readers and advertisers alike will trust us. Trust is so important for rebuilding respect and engagement with our audiences in a world where “fake news” seems prevalent, and post pandemic, where reassurance that spending time and money with us are needed more than ever.

The 3 bases of branded content 

Starting at base 1, I am sure we can all agree that good content is a good thing from the point of view of being engaging, informational, and that it should make the reader come back for more. 

Then, base 2 would be that if we can optimise it correctly, we can tell who the reader is and how they located you. 

Consequently, if we can then produce high-quality (branded) content, done well (in terms of transparency and targeting), it can be a base 3, advertising game changer — where savvy digital marketers are happy to pay a premium for it and where the smarter advertisers understand the value of it.

In essence, if you aren’t including branded content as part of our advertising offerings, we are leaving revenue on the table. In this newsletter, I will talk about the reasons branded content is crucial to forcing your future revenue streams.

Why branded content is important to you and your advertisers 

At the core of it all, branded content is about all building trust between a brand and its loyal customers. It’s about building relationships. 

Consumers today are more choosy about how they want to obtain either brand or product information, choosing to have more control over the entire process.

Traditional advertising like TV ads and direct mail campaigns may not automatically reach the audiences they once did, and those savvy digital marketers know this. They know how to use key words to attract and engage consumers, how to tell a brand story using visual storytelling tools, how to spotlight its USPs, and hopefully excite readers with useful information that leaves them wanting more.

Concentrating on well-produced (branded) content isnt just a wise way to connect — it also will develop into brand growth.

Research from the Mobile Marketing Association.
Research from the Mobile Marketing Association.

It’s also highly cost-effective. According to various research from the Mobile Marketing Association, branded marketing costs up to 62% less than traditional marketing efforts and generates approximately three times as many leads.

Indeed, their research also shows: 

  • A huge 70% of consumers feel they learn about a brand through branded content rather than traditional advertising.
  • 78% of people feel they’ve developed a relationship with a brand after reading custom content.
  • 90% of consumers find branded content a helpful way to learn more. 

In short, good content is a given. But branded content (when done well, when trusted) can allow for advertising budgets to go much further and deliver an ROI few other advertising efforts can replicate. 

Which is where we come to trust.

5 ways to make customers trust your client’s brand

Building trust doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen in isolation. We have to remain totally consistent in our messaging, understand our audience personas, and, most of all, deliver on our promises every time. 

Building trust with readers involves many steps from media companies.
Building trust with readers involves many steps from media companies.

Here are five things I believe should constitute our checklist to do this effectively — a list we can use when dealing with our advertising clients to demonstrate we know how to deal with trust and we take it seriously. 

1. Be open and accessible. 

Be accessible to customers allowing them to engage with us. Customers very often have queries. And if there’s nowhere to go to and we simply cannot respond, we will lose credibility. Maybe start an online community or use a mix of AI assisted and live/human assistance lines if not already doing so?

Also, clients could consider attending conferences and events where they can answer queries in person, A good way to increase brand “likability” provide support.

2. Have a consistently reliable product/service.

Customers very often buy on emotion, not logic. The challenge is: How do we ensure customers are impressed with the quality of the product or service in justifying their purchase? We can’t afford to attract adverse reviews that only lead to mistrust and poor credibility.

One way to ensure our clients’ quality is, of course, to have robust testing process. But maybe encourage the client to consider focus groups, ask target audiences what their requirements are, and what kind of product or service would deliver that?

3. Be totally honest. 

If, as we should, desire to be transparent, that means being honest about both our brand strengths and weaknesses. 

Honesty and openness show we really care about what our customers want and need, and our willingness to help them see that gets results. 

4. Bring value to your client. 

What comes first? Do we put customers first or do we put achieving maximum revenue first? People know when they’re just an avenue to more  pounds or dollars to us. And while they may still buy (if they believe the product solves their needs), this doesn’t build longer-term trust or even encourage them down the road of repeat sales. 

I once read a line from someone in tar ad industry (I cannot recall who, sorry): “Delight is in the detail.” Taking the time to look at the small things, the minutia, brings value to your client. Step back and look at the messaging, the delivery, the execution of the advertising. Do we aim to delight? 

5. Keep being consistent. 

Maintaining total consistency makes sure customers know what to expect. Brands can set goals to maintain the quality of service and product/service attributes.

A consistent brand will help increase the overall value of your brand by reinforcing its place in the market. It will attract loyalty in customers and they follow with higher retention rates, as well as pushing up the perceived value of the brand.

Messaging: a summary

In conclusion, don’t forget how crucial messaging is. This brings all the above together. At the end of the day, the client brand message should be an extension of the make-up of the brand. Its behaviours, its stance, its personality. 

If it isn’t “real” to who the brand is, we can’t deliver on it, and in essence, we are being inconsistent.

We need to ask: How do we want the brand to be placed in the market? Do you want to be seen as novel, dependable, helpful, or maybe some other trait? Creating consistent imagery across every channel — be it Web site, social/traditional media, brochures, etc. — is an easy way that can help build trust with customers. 

How we communicate with specific/targeted audiences, however, and the chosen channels we use are important to the whole process.

Trust shows a commitment to quality and even excellence. If we can deliver the right results to the right customers for our advertisers, those advertisers will come back to us again, trusting us in our knowledge of their world.

All part of a consultative sell?

Further reading

About this newsletter 

Today’s newsletter is written by Mark Challinor, based in London and lead for the INMA Advertising Initiative. Mark will share research, case studies, and thought leadership on the topic of global news media advertising. Sign up for the newsletter here.

This newsletter is a public face of the Advertising Initiative by INMA, outlined here.

E-mail Mark at with thoughts, suggestions, and questions or follow him on Twitter (@challinor).

About Mark Challinor

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.