Is Content or Context King? Why Brand Trust Requires Both.
Recent research makes a strong case that where you encounter a brand online, along with the qualitative context of that encounter, makes a huge difference in brand trust, interaction and purchase. According to one survey, online media sites are seen to offer more trustworthy content – and therefore cast a greater aura of trustworthiness onto their advertisers – than do portals or social media sites.
I must admit that in this case the source almost inadvertently proves the premise to me: the survey was sponsored by the Online Publishers Association, not an online news site, and my cynical side automatically says that the OPA got only the answers they were looking for (or only shared the answers they liked). Notwithstanding my kneejerk response to distrust a self-serving survey, the findings do pass one critical smell test: they make sense.
CONTENT BELIEVABILITY = A CONTEXT OF BUY-ABILITY
A key survey finding is that relevant, quality content matters to consumer involvement with and response to brands advertising online. To quote a summation of the survey from imediaconnection.com:
• Consumers are more likely to trust content on media sites (72 percent) than portal channels (60
percent) and social media (23 percent)
• Audiences on media sites are significantly more likely to believe these sites’ advertisers
are reputable and offer high quality products (24 percent), compared to portal channels
(20 percent) and social media (8 percent)
• People who recall purchasing from a site’s advertisers are significantly more
likely to do so from media sites (8 percent) than portal channels (5 percent)
or social media (2 percent)
• Those loyal to media sites are more likely to purchase from advertisers on these sites
(15 percent) than portal loyalists or social media loyalists (8 percent and 4 percent respectively)
Of course, I quote the above media site not (only) because I’m too lazy to make an independent assessment of the facts offered, but more so to make a point: how easy it is to convert marketing information (research or otherwise) into what passes for media information. This is true of traditional media, but, as on so many other fronts, the impact is magnified online. A simple Google search for the title of this survey, “A Sense of Place: Why Environments Matter,” yields 10,100 results, many of which are on online media sites like the one I quote above.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, and in fact I encourage clients to offer surveys and other information or tools of value, promoting them if only by electronic press release. One of the most immediate benefits is in search: a recent release we sent out catapulted the client to page one of Google for the most important keyword, and has kept them on page one or two as it continues to insinuate itself across the Internet.
QUALITY CONTENT CREATES A TRUSTWORTHY CONTEXT
But the most important consideration here is value: are you providing information that merely grabs a search engine’s attention, or are you delivering content that creates a context of trust by delivering meaningful, useful input and insight? If you’re only doing the former, you are merely creating an counterproductive “opportunity” for disappointment, disbelief and mistrust. Apparently, online media sites are doing the latter, providing substance and value to build trust for themselves and the advertisers who sponsor them.
If you advertise online where are you finding your greatest success: media sites, portals or on