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digital audience engagement

5 things media companies need to know about content, advertising, and trust

07 March 2014 · by Peter Marsh

The trust and credibility a news brand can generate among its readers strengthen the effectiveness of advertising on its Web site, which in turns adds to the brand’s credibility. And on the cycle continues.

Block letter game pieces spelling out Customer, Trust, Loyalty and Confidence.The digital universe is a crowded, noisy place. People want a filter. We crave trusted sources for the news and advertising content we consume. Credibility matters. And credible content is key to building revenues across print, Web, mobile, and tablet channels.

A recent Nielsen survey found that people trust newspaper and magazine advertising more than any other media. The study reports 63% of consumers in North America find newspaper ads to be credible, accurate, and trustworthy. Magazine ads are the second most trusted media at 62%.

Compare that to social media ads, which are trusted by only 39% of consumers. Mobile display ads and online banner ads fare even worse and are trusted by just 35% and 33%, respectively.

Credibility helps to both establish and reinforce brand loyalty. Several new studies show a strong correlation between Web sites with content that people view as trustworthy and their audiences being loyal to these sites.

In short, people will come to your brand – and keep returning – if they find your content to be trusted.

Here are five important things you should know about credibility and media industry content.

  1. Credible content has a brand halo effect that extends to your advertisers. Ads appearing on a trusted newspaper page or Web site are perceived as credible and reputable. A research report by the Online Publishers Association found the credibility of a media company’s content carries over to the credibility of the advertising on your site.

    Consumers who are loyal to branded media sites are 50% more likely to purchase from advertisers on these sites.

  2. Contextual advertising has a positive impact on credibility. A 2012 Online Journalism Credibility survey found that people see online advertising as most valuable when the ads are relevant to the content of the page. Advertisers will pay more for contextual ads because readers find them more believable.

    Contextual ads have double the conversion rate of run-of-site ads. Consumers who click on ads targeted specifically to them are twice as likely to buy the advertised product or service.

  3. Contextual advertising on “soft news’’ pages is viewed as more credible than contextual advertising on hard news pages. Soft news pages include sports, entertainment, travel, and living. Contextual ads appearing on these pages are perceived as trustworthy and credible.

    By comparison, contextual ads are deemed less credible when they appear on pages containing hard news stories.

  4. Ad format, labeling, and location can impact credibility. When looking at different digital ad formats (display ads, banners, text links, graphic ads, and navigational link ads), online display ads receive the top ratings for credibility compared to other ad formats.
    Also, clearly labeling an ad as an “advertisement” has a positive effect on the credibility of the entire page.

    Native advertising designers should note that respondents react unfavourably when this distinction is not clear, and tend to rate both the ad and adjacent news content as less credible.

    In addition, page position matters when it comes to credibility. Ads appearing in the right column of a Web page received significantly higher trust ratings than ads in the main content area.

  5. People visit online news media sites to validate the credibility of information they find from search engines. Newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters are seen as the ultimate purveyors of curated and verified content. Branded news sites are clearly more credible than portals or social media sites. Visitors come to news sites to check the validity of content they read on social media.

    And, as mentioned above, ads appearing on news sites are viewed as more trustworthy simply because the credibility of the site extends to the credibility of the advertisers.

A reputation for trust remains one of the news media industry’s unique value propositions. To sustain and build this trust, it is important to put your audience at the center of your digital business strategy.

Relevant, contextual advertising is one way to achieve this. A personalised Web experience, as well as targeted news and ad content, will also help to build trust and to deepen audience engagement.

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