A question of trust

Submitted by: Sam Upton 05/02/2018

In the world of marketing and media, gaining and keeping a consumer’s trust is high on the list of priorities. Without trust in a brand, whether that brand is a newspaper, a social media platform or frozen fish fingers, consumers will quickly look elsewhere for their news, opinion or something to cook for tea. And once that trust is gone, it’s very difficult to get back. 

Over the past 18 months, the issue of trust itself has become a major news topic, with politicians at every level placing Fake News at the top of their agendas. Depending on who you listen to, it’s been responsible for everything from the outcome of the European referendum to influencing the US presidential election. 
With the rise in Fake News coinciding with the rise of social media, there’s a clear link between the platform news is delivered on and the veracity of the information. But what that link is and what difference the medium makes is still under debate, so Two Sides commissioned a global survey, asking over 10,000 consumers in ten countries about the issue of fake news and what difference reading stories in a print newspaper makes. Their response firmly holds print newspapers up as the more trusted source of news and the medium that offers a deeper understanding of a story. 

Out of all UK respondents, 76% agree that Fake News is a worrying trend, while just 16% trust the news stories they read on social media. This compares to 39% that trust the news stories they read in printed newspapers. Consumers also look towards print for greater depth, with 63% agreeing with the statement that reading news in a print newspaper provides a deep understanding of a news story. When given the same statement for social media, only 45% of respondents agreed with it. 

These findings tally with a recent study by Magnetic, the marketing agency for magazine media in the UK. They wanted to find out the influence trust has on brand advertising and how consumers view different media environments. They found that magazine brands provide a trusted environment for advertisers, with a net score of 70% on a single question of trust, compared to 30% for social media. The report explains this stark difference by saying that magazine brands are seen as relevant, reliable and expert, all of which are significant factors underpinning trust in media brands.

“Trust is high on the agenda for clients right now,” says Ffion Turner, Business Intelligence Board Director at MediaCom, “so it’s key to be able to distinguish the elements that make a brand trustworthy in the eyes of the consumer. Any insight that can demonstrate the value of context and prove the rub effects of media brands is invaluable for advertisers.”

Knowing that brand owners and media planners are keenly aware of the importance of placing their adverts on the right platform, the Two Sides study then asked UK consumers about their advertising preferences, in particular their response to online ads and whether they paid any attention to them. The results pointed towards online advertising not only being routinely ignored, but branded irritating and irrelevant. Of over 1,000 consumers interviewed, a massive 78% don’t pay attention to most online adverts, while 69% find them ‘annoying and usually not relevant’. When asked about actual times they have clicked on an online ad, 72% stated that they couldn’t remember the last time they willingly clicked on one, while 63% said they do their best to block or avoid them. 

It’s clear from these results that online advertising isn’t working. Many people are choosing to ignore most of the ads they see online – which, for brands keen to capitalise on the reach and cost-effectiveness of digital marketing, should be a very worrying trend. Some of the answer of why people actively avoid clicking on digital advertising may lie in the lack of trust consumers have for online content. In the Two Sides survey, 59% of respondents stated that they don’t trust many of the advertisements they see online. This echoes the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer, which reported a 13% lift in trust for traditional media, reversing a five-year decline to reach 61%, while trust in social media dropped two points to just 24%.

“As trust in social media sinks, there is better news from traditional media,” says Ed Williams, CEO of Edelman UK. “Once hollowed out by a decade of systemic shocks – from disruption of the internet, to Trump and the advent of fake news – a majority of us now say we trust newspapers and broadcasters.”
It’s been a bumpy ride, but it seems the tide of trust is turning back to the traditional. 

To download the global report, as well as the Key Findings from the UK survey, go to www.twosides.info/Survey2017